Jay Jenkins, Anniston city councilman and architect, said demolition of the building at 1200 Gurnee Ave. will begin as soon as the Anniston City Jail is vacated on April 29.
“The old building has seen better days and it’s time for it to go,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins estimated it would take two-and-a-half weeks to tear the building down and another two weeks to build a fenced in parking lot in its place. The entire project should be finished in June, he said.
Jenkins has visited the Justin Sollohub Justice Center every day for the last two weeks and said he believes police will find the new building much more functional. Jenkins said that while designing the justice center, Monroe & Jenkins Architects kept the “frills” to a minimum and made sure standards were met without “dressing up the space.”
Jenkins’ firm was approved for the $15 million project before he was appointed to the council.
Police and Jenkins agree the new building provides more security for officers and inmates. For instance, the jail allows police to take an inmate to the municipal courtroom by simply walking down a hallway, rather than outside and across the street.
“I hope it serves the city of Anniston well for the next 50 to 75 years,” Jenkins said.
Justin Rutland, assistant project manager at Brice Building Company, said the jail is 90 percent completed. The walls still need to be painted and the floor sealed, Rutland said, for it to be considered done. After the jail is finished on the 29th, Hale Building Company will demolish the old police station and McWhorter and Company will pave the parking lot and put up the fence, he said.
“We should be wrapped up and out of here the first week of June,” Rutland said.
The entire project has gone smoothly, Rutland said, and everyone is working together while construction continues and police move in.
A new police department has been long overdue, according to Don Hoyt, Anniston city manager.
Hoyt said the old building was in such bad shape that evidence was in danger of being lost when it rained due to leaks. The jail was also not up to standard, Hoyt said, and easily could have been shut down if someone had filed a complaint.
“That building should have been replaced 15 or 20 years ago,” Hoyt said.
The parking lot next to the justice center will be used mainly by police vehicles, Hoyt said, and by people visiting the jail, going to court or filing a police report.
Mayor Vaughn Stewart said he’s looking forward to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building, which he hopes will be held June 1.
“The architect and construction companies did a top notch job,” Stewart said. “It’s going to be a nice facility for the law enforcement folks.”
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.