Should they stay or should they go? County debates future on the Square.

Nov 21, 2017 at 03:35 pm by Michelle Willard

The future of Rutherford County government offices on and around the Public Square is at a crossroads.

Do they stay or do they go now and vacate the government-owned buildings lining the Square?

To help answer that question, the county ordered an office space study Gresham Smith in early 2017.

The study returned eight possibilities from which to choose. Those eight were pared down to two with two alternate plans with the main difference is the “county's presence on the Square.”

Afton Mooney from Gresham Smith presented the top options to the Property Management Committee on Oct. 26.

Gresham Smith found the county currently needs 70,585 square feet to house all its personnel. After the new Judicial Center is opened, the county will have 109,556 square feet available.

So how do they divvy up the space?

As an aside, the county currently pays $96,000 per year to lease office space for departments like misdemeanor probation. It would also generate up to $48,000 a year to return some buildings to the property tax rolls.

The Property Management Committee approved narrowing down the options and to move forward with buying an old medical office building at 525 N. University St. The office once housed Middle Orthopedics & Sports.

Option 5

Cost: $12.5 million

Recommendation: Sell Judicial Building, adjacent Murfreesboro Bank building, and Goldstein Building; purchase or building new buildings; and expand 319 N. Maple St.

Timeline: 2.5 years

Total Square Footage: 104,600

Space distribution

Historic Health Department: Misdemeanor Probation

Historic Courthouse: Mayor, Trustee, Office of Information Technology & Finance

North Maple (requires adding 47,000 square feet): Levels 1 & 2 would stay with County Clerk, Property Assessor, and Register of Deeds; three new floors would house Human Resources, Risk Management, OIT, Planning & Engineering and the Election Commission.

North University: Recovery Court

Option 5A

Cost: $12.5 million

Total Square Footage: 104,600

Recommendations: Same as Option 5, except it adds a two-level parking garage at the Clerk's Office, which would require the purchase of a satellite office for drive-thru services. The additional parking could be gained by adding levels to the new parking garage that just opened.


Selling the Judicial Building, old Murfreesboro Bank building and Goldstein Building would net the county a estimated $4.49 million. But the county would have to buy at least two new buildings at an estimated cost of $1.5 million to replace the lost square footage.

And Burgess isn't sold on that option.

“Well I'm still concerned about our ability to sell these buildings … I do have concerns about whoever buys them will be financially successful and maintain the integrity of the Square,” Burgess said,

The county mayor added he is in favor of keeping a presence around the Square.

“I'm in favor of keeping a couple of the buildings we have and maintaining our responsibility to do what we can for the future of Murfreesboro's downtown,” Burgess said.

Mooney added downtown traffic and parking are an issue with this option. This could be solved by expanding the Clerk's Office on North Maple by three levels and either adding two levels to the new parking garage or building a new two level garage at the Clerk's Office. It would also require purchasing an additional building to serve as a satellite office for the County Clerk as proposed in Option 5A.

Option 7

Cost: $11.3 million

Recommendations: Renovate the Judicial Building, historic Health Department, and Goldstein Building; sell Murfreesboro Bank building; purchase 525 N. University for Recovery Court

Timeline: 1.5 years

Total Square Footage: 105,100

Space distribution

Judicial Building: Election Commission, OIT, Risk Management, and Human Resources

Goldstein Building: Building & Codes, Planning & Engineering

Historic Health Department: Misdemeanor Probation

Historic Courthouse: Mayor, Trustee, Finance

North University: Recovery Court

North Maple: County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Property Assessor

Option 7A

Cost: $19.5 million

Recommendations: Same as Option 7 but adds an additional phase to add two floors to the North Maple building, a new parking garage, and purchase of a satellite office for the County Clerk for drive-thru services.

Timeline: 5-10 years

Total Square Footage: 135,100

Space distribution: Same as Option 7 but allows for additional space to be gained by expanding the County Clerk's building to accommodate growth.


Option 7 would renovate the soon-to-be vacated Judicial and Goldstein buildings. The historic Goldstein building would be brought up to code and made ADA compliant.

Committee Chairman Allen McAdoo said the renovation report of the Goldstein Building “isn't that bad.” Committee Vice Chairman Paul Johnson disagreed, saying if you pay $780,000 to rehab a building valued at an estimated $1.1 million, are you really being a “good steward of taxpayer money?” He then called it “throwing good money after bad.”

Mooney said this option keeps a larger county presence on the Square but means offices would be more spread out.

The main difference between Options 7 and 7A are the time.

“That phase option is out further than the five year phase. It would give you another bite at the apple eight or 10 years out,” Burgess said.

Commissioner Trey Gooch said he was taking a hard look at Option 7A because future Couty Commissions will likely need space in the close future.

Watch the meeting

Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics and true crime podcasts, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)


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