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City courts on the move to new digs

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The Renwick building—in use since before the Civil War—will cease serving as the home of Fredericksburg’s Circuit Court at the close of business Thursday.

The Circuit Court is moving one block away, into the new $23.8 million courthouse at 701 Princess Anne St.

The General District Court, currently located across from the Fredericksburg Post Office, is also moving into the new Fredericksburg Courthouse.

Both courts will be closed on Friday and Monday to make the move. They will begin operations in the new, three-story brick building on Tuesday. The first Circuit Court case is scheduled for next Thursday, said Circuit Clerk Jeff Small.

A formal dedication ceremony will be held at some point but has not yet been scheduled.

The Sheriff’s Office was the first to move into the 85,000-square-foot building. It is located in the basement level.

Furnishings and other items for the courthouse’s other occupants have gradually been moving into the new building.

On Tuesday, Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Marc Hoffman was in the process of moving historical records—those prior to 1915—into their new home.

However, the majority of the move will take place over four days, starting on Friday.

Once the General District Court is vacated, that building will be renovated before becoming home to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. It currently operates in the Executive Plaza.

The first floor of the new courthouse will house Circuit Court records and includes a climate-controlled room for sensitive documents.

The second floor will have General District Court records and two courtrooms.

Just one of those courtrooms will be available when the building opens since the council voted in July 2012 to save about $248,000 by not finishing the second one.

Both Circuit courtrooms are on the third floor and are to be used from the start.

In fall 2011, the City Council signed a $31.9 million contract with First Choice Public–Private Partners for all phases of the courthouse project. The council later approved a $38.7 million bond to pay for the construction and other costs associated.

The project was about $1 million under budget as of last month, according to Bob Antozzi, the city’s director of parks, recreation and public facilities.

Future plans for the Renwick building have not been decided.

The Gothic Revival building was designed in 1852 by architect James Renwick Jr. Renwick is known for designing the Smithsonian Institution Castle in Washington and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

Small commended Antozzi and his crew for ushering the project through smoothly while dealing with different personalities and competing demands.

“The city’s Bob Antozzi has done an amazing job managing this project,” he said. “They’ve done everything they possibly could to accommodate the people moving into [the courthouse] and the construction.”

Hoffman said the transition was going well since everyone had ample notice.

“We’ve had a lot of time to prepare, so it’s not bad,” he said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

TRANSITIONING

The Fredericksburg Circuit and General District Courts will be closed on Friday and Monday.

When court resumes on Tuesday, both courts will be in the new courthouse at 701 Princess Anne St.

For more information on circuit court, go to fredclerk.com.

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