The new courthouse in Plant City has been open since November, but it is only now that the old courthouse across the street is coming down.
More than 100 people packed Courtroom 3 on the upper floor of the 60,000-square-foot, $10.2 million building for the dedication ceremony last year. The courthouse, 302 N. Michigan Ave., replaces the 53-year-old building across the street. The construction cost was part of a $21.4-million project that includes destruction of the old courthouse.
A heavy metal claw dug in to the old building recently, grinding to shreds what was left of the old brick building, reducing it to piles of concrete, brick and metal rubble. The new courthouse and the Plant City Neighborhood Service Center, which offers help for those seeking social services, sit just across the street.
Few will miss the old courthouse. During the dedication, then-Mayor Dan Raulerson said the city owes "a great deal of appreciation to all the people over the years who have paved the way for this (new) courthouse being built. I also thank Rep. (Rich) Glorioso for all the work that he did to see this project through to its final phase."
Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank during the dedication, also thanked the former state representative, and other legislators who helped get the new courthouse in place.
She called employees in the old building patient for waiting so long to get their new offices and court rooms. "The move to the new building was a long-awaited improvement," Frank said at the time.
Raulerson, now a state representative, said the new courthouse will serve the needs of the residents in eastern Hillsborough County for years to come.
Glorioso, a former city commissioner in Plant City who recently completed his fourth two-year term as state representative, was involved in getting the new courthouse built from the early stages.
"One of the first projects I became involved in when going to Tallahassee was to help finance a new courthouse in Plant City," he said at the dedication last year. "Now, to see the final result of a lot of effort, we can't help but be pleased. The building is so functional and useful. It was built without frills and yet it has everything you need for a modern court to function."
The courthouse has four courtrooms and local offices for the clerk of the circuit court, state attorney, public defender and sheriff. Security and other systems are state of the art, with a full complement of energy-efficient appliances.