City pitches its concept for courthouse, city hall

The City of Cape Girardeau has determined the best solution to preserve Cape Girardeau's most iconic building and to solve its limitations with its current city hall building is to combine the two.

Which means the city wants to return many of its core offices to Common Pleas, the same building that was once deemed too small for city hall.

The move makes some sense, as explained by city officials. The city currently faces the unenviable tax of finding a use for common pleas, but won't be able to do much with the building until it receives major upgrades. The city hall building, meanwhile, has become too small, needs major upgrades as well and is not ADA compliant. The old school building just doesn't meet the needs, city officials have said for years, and it would make more sense to build new than to upgrade at its current location.

The plan would connect the Common Pleas Courthouse with the Annex building, which is not as old as the courthouse, but still a historically significant building, many have argued. The building was once a library.

The project, according to recent reporting by Mark Bliss, is expected to cost about $12 million with $6 million coming from a capital improvements sales tax that will be decided by voters in August and possibly $6 million coming from casino revenue, city officials said.

Deputy city manager Molly Mehner has said that building a new city hall would have cost an estimated $19 to $20 million, and those plans don't involve preserving the courthouse, and may not preserve the current city hall building.

The new plan would provide for a city hall that would have more than 27,000 square feet and would preserve all three buildings. It would not accommodate customer service offices, which could be located at more well-traveled parts of the city.

City officials have made a strong case for this concept, but it's still in the early stages. This will be a complicated project. Public input is welcome. If you have concerns or suggestions about how the city should proceed, now is a good time to let your councilman know your thoughts.