Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Future of the Superior Courthouse

This past Sunday's Lowell Sun ran a story about the uncertain future of the Middlesex Superior Courthouse after the new Lowell Judicial Center opens in 2015. Once that facility is operational, the Superior Court and related functions such as the Clerk's Office and Probation will move to it along with the District Court and perhaps the Juvenile Court (which is now in rented quarters with a long-term lease). The Registry of Deeds will not go to the Judicial Center - that much is clear. Where we will go is an open question. It's possible that we will stay here or move to another site. The possibility of the registry moving has been apparent for years, so everything we have done (digitizing records, purchasing and disposing of equipment and furnishings) has been compatible with moving to a smaller facility.

The bigger question to me is what will happen to this building? Any redevelopment will certainly be a challenge given the age of the building and a certain amount of disrepair. But the building is in a great location with the highway 100 yards to the south, the train station 200 yards to the west, and downtown Lowell 250 yards to the north. Plus, the building is spacious, has had many updates, and has parking and green space. Despite all those assets, if nothing is done until after the Superior Court moves out, chances are it will be too late to save this structure.

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