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GSA Plans to Save Gulfport Library, Bring New Courthouse to High-School Site

GSA # 9641

February 16, 2000
Contact: Viki Reath 202-501-1231

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After considering public sentiment on the location of the new federal courthouse in Gulfport, Miss., the U.S. General Services Administration today announced that it intends to build the project on the old high-school site.

GSA will seek public comment, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, over the next two weeks. In mid-March GSA expects to announce the final site decision.

GSA has been working with Gulfport officials for some time to find an appropriate site for the new courthouse. Congress authorized its construction, and it is a priority for the U.S. Judicial Conference.

"We had a public hearing, we heard the concerns, and we listened," said Robert A. Peck, commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service. "As a result, we're moving off the library site, building a beautiful new courthouse and preserving a historic high school."

The new courthouse, designed by Kliment-Halsban of New York and Canizero Trigan Architects of Jackson, Miss., in a joint venture, will enhance Gulfport's central business district. Plans call for adapting most of the exterior of the old high school, a recognized jewel designed by Mississippi architect M.W. Overstreet, in a renovation that will produce offices for U.S. Attorneys.

The budget for the entire Gulfport project, including renovation of the old high school, is $52 million, including site, design and construction. GSA already has received money for site and design. President Clinton has requested $42.7 million in construction funds for the project in his FY 2001 budget. GSA hopes to break ground on the 220,000-square-foot project in after Nov. 1, 2001. The project should be complete by November 2003.

"We like to think that when we build federal projects in communities that we're working for the local citizens, along with the federal government -- which also represents them, of course," said Thomas W. Walker, assistant regional administrator of GSA's Southeast Region. "We've found an option that keeps the library as it is and contributes a beautiful new federal building on same street as Gulfport's City Hall and other municipal service buildings."

Walker said he is especially pleased that, while achieving the above goals, the beautiful oaks on the old high school property also will be preserved.

"Since I transferred to this region, which gave me a chance to come back to the South, I have enjoyed working on this effort by Congress and the federal judges to build a new federal courthouse in my home state," Walker said.

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