Future Plans for Historic Courthouse
County leaders are working with the City of Lincolnton and other key stakeholders to determine the future use of the Lincoln County Historic Courthouse building in downtown Lincolnton. This is an exciting opportunity to increase local economic activity and community events. Be sure to save this page and keep checking back for continuing updates on the project to learn more.
Purpose of the Project:
- Ensure that the building continues serving all the citizens of Lincoln County by repurposing for the highest and best use at minimal cost to taxpayers.
- Allow the building to contribute to the local economy and to the City of Lincolnton’s downtown central business district.
- Solidify the building as a highly valued cultural resource by acknowledging the building’s historical significance, protecting the structure against demolition, and maintaining the architectural integrity of the exterior including memorials and monuments.
Lincoln County District and Superior Court has moved into a new facility near the Health Department on Gamble Drive. The existing 1923 courthouse at 1 Court Square in downtown Lincolnton will be vacated as part of the process.
The county established a committee in January 2021 made up of key stakeholders in the community to help determine the future use of the historic building including: County and City elected officials and staff, Lincoln Economic Development Association, Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, Lincolnton Downtown Development Association, Lincolnton-Lincoln County Historic Properties Commission, and the Lincolnton Tourism Board. Others that were consulted include: The North Carolina Department of Transportation, North Carolina Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Lincoln County Building Officials, The Lincoln County Historical Association, Preservation North Carolina (PNC), NC Small Business Technical Development Center (SBTDC), the UNC School of Government, Local Historians, Rotary Club, and previous architects who completed work on the building in the 1980s and 90s. Also, a public survey offered the citizens of Lincoln County and the general public an opportunity to voice opinions and provide feedback on ideas for the future of the building.
The building has been designated as a Local Historic Landmark since 1992, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A report has been completed by county staff that provides examples of what other communities have done with historic former courthouse buildings in North Carolina and across the U.S.
The Lincoln County Courthouse is not the only historic court building that has been considered for a different use in its second life. Some around the country have undergone major changes after being vacated. The report included here provides an overview of what others have been able to accomplish around North Carolina and the United States including museums, restaurants, event venues, business offices, civic space, non profit organizations, corporate headquarters, and even living space.
The county embarked on a six month strategic planning process brainstorming ideas, discussing challenges, exploring and investigating ways to reuse or repurpose the building. Strategies were discussed, data was analyzed, and an economic impact analysis was conducted with the help of the Small Business Technical Development Center and the Lincoln Economic Development Association.
The committee came to consensus after holding 5 meetings between February and June to recommend to commissioners that the County diligently consider and explore a mixed-use approach for the future of the building. This includes investigating options that are available through local development statutes and tools available to the county including potential for public-private partnerships and engaging with a specialized developer/architect with experience in historic building rehabilitation, tax credits, and development of mixed use projects. In order to fully consider the request, the committee and staff will propose that the Board of County Commissioners schedule an information session with the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) staff of the UNC-School of Government who are experts on the subject matter. The purpose of the information session will be for the commissioners to gauge the value of hiring and taking advantage of the service offered by the UNC School of Government, which is to perform all of the necessary pre-development work including but not limited to: conducting market analysis, drafting RFPs, drafting pro-forma, assessing financial feasibility, recruiting and selection of developer/architect, and drafting development agreement(s). All of this work would be to ensure the building’s history is preserved and the highest and best use is achieved. Protecting the interests of the county/community and associated stakeholders while ensuring a bright future for the building that can contribute to the local downtown and local economy is at the forefront of this recommendation.
The county established a committee in January 2021 made up of key stakeholders in the community and consulted several other partners and resources to help determine the future use of the building and also published a public survey to gain feedback from the citizens and general public. Below is a representation of those partners/agencies and stakeholders. The goal is for this list to continue to grow as we move forward with the project.