Guilford County is going back to the drawing board and that trip will cost about $35,000.

The real expense, however, will be known when it’s time to pay for what comes off of that drawing board – the proposed “Law Enforcement Center,” a new building the county is expected to construct to house the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department’s administrative offices as well as other functions related to law enforcement.

The board will vote on spending the $35,000 at its Thursday, Dec. 13 meeting to hire the firm of J. Hyatt Hammond Architects “to assess and provide for the needs of the Sheriff’s Office and evaluate other facility needs.”  The commissioners are expected to approve the expense.

Now that the Board of Commissioners has killed a previous plan to renovate the old jail for Sheriff’s Department’s offices, the county must determine the proposed new building’s space needs, workflow and cost.  Currently, a ballpark figure for the building is about $20 million, but that’s a very rough estimate and J. Hyatt Hammond will be able to give the county a better estimate after studying the situation.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said the new building, if approved, will almost certainly be on the same downtown Greensboro block as the current Sheriff’s Department office in the Otto Zenke building at 400 W. Washington St.

“I can’t imagine it would be anywhere else,” Branson said this week.

The old jail on the same block is expected to be torn down.

The proposal set to be approved Thursday night states that a new facility to be studied will be “on the Otto Zenke site or alternate location.”

The firm will also assess what should be done with the tunnel that’s used when inmates are transported from the new jail to and from the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro.

Branson said it was frustrating that the board has to start over because the county had already spent more that $400,000 on the old jail renovation project.  The money to pay J. Hyatt Hammond will be taken out of funds the board previously set aside for the old jail renovation project.