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Howard County looks to reuse Ellicott City courthouse spaces ahead of move to new Columbia building

Howard County is seeking options for how to reuse the historic Ellicott City courthouse complex as the move to the newly developed Circuit Court building in Columbia quickly approaches.

On Monday, the county announced it was issuing an official request for information as it rezones the four associated properties in the historic complex: the courthouse at 8360 Court Ave., the old Ellicott City jail house at 3709 Park Ave., the office building at 3716 Court Place and the parking lot (269 spaces) used for the courthouse. Responses to the request for information are due by April 13.

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The county is set to vacate the current 175-year-old Circuit Court building this summer and relocate to the new 238,000-square-foot property off U.S. 29 in Columbia. The new building includes a four-story atrium, 691-space parking garage, chambers for six judges, as well as distinct hallways and separate, secure elevators for prisoners. It will also include office space for the state’s attorney, sheriff and register of wills.

“We have a unique opportunity to repurpose our nearly two-century-old courthouse complex in Ellicott City and re-imagine how this space can be utilized and serve our residents, businesses and visitors,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement.

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In summer 2018, the County Council approved the public-private partnership plan for the new $140 million courthouse, introduced by then-County Executive Allan Kittleman. At the time, Ball was the sole council member opposed to the contact for the project.

The county is set to host a pre-submission community meeting on March 31 to hear ideas for the reuse of the spaces.

Through the process, the county officials said they hope to identify market interest and opportunities in the reuse of the properties, inform the rezoning process underway by the county for the properties, explore ownership structures and determine if the properties will be addressed collectively or individually.

The new courthouse is set to open in July.

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