A bill on Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk will give Orange County 18 more months to start building its new $21 million jail on state land off Old N.C. 86.
The county signed a lease with the state in 2012 for 6.8 acres at the southeastern corner of Interstate 85 and Old N.C. 86 in Hillsborough. The lease – at a rate of $1 a year – was finalized in 2013, setting a five-year deadline.
But the original terms made it difficult for the county to get a construction loan using the jail as collateral. Revising the lease so the county has control of the land and the building gives the bank more certainty that the county can maintain the collateral, Deputy County Manager Travis Myren said.
Moseley Architects was asked to halt design work on the 144-bed detention facility until the lease could be revised.
State Sen. Valerie Foushee, an Orange County Democrat, negotiated with Republican lawmakers during this year’s short session to revise the lease as part of a bill amending the state’s Vacation Rental Act. House Bill 151 was approved and forwarded to the governor July 1.
It will become effective when signed. The changes:
▪ Create a leasehold deed of trust for up to 40 years, giving the county control of the land and a better chance to secure a loan using the jail as collateral
▪ Let the state take back the land if the county defaults on the loan
▪ Extend the construction start and completion dates by 18 months.
County officials will revise their timeline for design and construction once the governor signs the bill, Myren said, and authorize the architects and consultants to start working again. They had wrapped up the information-gathering process prior to the delay, he said.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners could review conceptual designs for the detention facility later this year, he said.
The lease extension sets a deadline for finishing construction in 2020; the county could begin operating the facility by 2021, replacing the existing Orange County Jail in downtown Hillsborough. That jail, built in 1925, has been renovated several times but doesn’t meet modern standards.
County officials had not discussed what would happen if the lease expired, but they did have options, including finding a different site and pairing the detention facility with another county construction project. That route could have allowed the county to use the other building as collateral for a loan.