Virginia- In November 2016, the County Board of Supervisors for Albemarle County approved a contract with an engineering services company, to evaluate the possibility of moving the Albemarle General District Court, Albemarle Circuit Court and the Albemarle County Administrative Office out of the city. The county has set aside nearly $40 million from its Capital Improvement Program budget to fund the project. Now, almost one year later, a decision has yet to be reached and there is growing contention over where to house the court buildings.
The county had five different options on the table, but right now only two are being explored. The first option would be to renovate the former Levy Opera House, demolish the surrounding buildings, build a new three-story general district court on the site and renovate the current court complex for $39.7 million. The second option would be to build a new court complex outside of the downtown area, move the General District Court and office building into the Charlottesville court facility, against the wishes of the city, and build a new administrative building for a total estimated cost of $37.7 million.
The option for keeping the courts downtown has not been officially taken off the table, but the county board has decided to pause on that option until they have a chance to fully explore the possibility of a public-private partnership. The criminal justice community is strongly opposed to dismantling the current county court system but the downtown location poses major parking problems. The county board is expected to make a decision by the end of this year.