The Guilford County Sherriff’s Department has been asking for a new administrative headquarters for about a decade and a half – and has been promised that one was in the works for about five years now.
Those who’ve been irritated with the long-time wait – including Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers – are no doubt resting a little easier after a Thursday, Jan. 5 presentation by Guilford County Facilities and Property Management Director Eric Hilton, who revealed the project was on track.
Hilton said his department has been working hard on the project since July of 2022 but he added that that might not have been evident since a lot of the work was underground or involved finalizing design elements such as picking out colors for the interior of the new building.
According to Hilton, county facilities’ staff has worked well with the Sheriff’s Department on design element choices.
Hilton also explained what can be expected in 2023. Soon, the Old Guilford County Jail in downtown Greensboro – the site where the new headquarters will be built – will be demolished.
Part of the basement area and first floor of the old jail will be reused as part of the new headquarters, and Sheriff’s deputies will still be able to move inmates into the county’s courthouse in Greensboro through the underground tunnel that’s been used for decades for that purpose.
As part of the project, the dilapidated – and, some claim, haunted – Otto Zenke building that’s served as the department’s headquarters for decades, will be torn down.
Three years ago, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved the new headquarters project with a $12-million price tag. That has now grown to $23.9 million total project cost.
There will be three phases to the project: Phase 1 involved re-routing the tunnel. That project began in summer of 2022 and now is essentially complete.
Phase 2, which just began, will involve the demolition of the old jail and the construction of the new building.
Phase 3 – the demolition of the Otto Zenke building and the paving of that land into a parking lot – is planned for July 2024.
County employees in the area have already begun expressing major concerns over the number of county parking spaces that will be displaced by this and other county construction projects slated in and around the area for 2023.