Jefferson Co. considers mall for Bessemer courthouse site

      Jefferson County Commissioners are looking at moving the Bessemer Courthouse staff to the former Mall at Westlake site.

      Wednesday,{}County Manager Tony Petelos met with the building owner to discuss the details. He told us, the deal could save them millions of dollars.

      The county commissioners voted to reject the lease on the current courthouse deal - and the decision to lower the price sits in the hand of the building owner. If they do not renegotiate, the county will look at moving services elsewhere.

      Right now, Petelos says the county simply cannot afford the rent on the current courthouse and annex. It currently holds a lease price tag of $8.3 million, plus almost $1{}million in utilities. The cost to renovate the mall location would run about $3-4 million. He says{}the lease there would be pennies on the dollar for what the county is currently spending. Petelos says the county would rather stay put, but because they are in bankruptcy, they must look for other options to cut costs.

      Petelos says the mall site has plenty of room for courthouse staff, it would keep the court in the Bessemer cutoff, and no one would lose their jobs.