County Begins Renovation Of Madison Street Jail

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 6:21pm
Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
County Board Of Supervisors Denny Barney speaks at a ceremony marking the renovation of the Madison Street Jail.

A building that once served as a jail will now house the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The Madison Street Jail is only a little more than 30 years old but county leaders say the building quickly fell out of code and has been sitting empty for the past decade.

At a ceremony Wednesday to mark the start of the renovation project, County Board of Supervisors Chair Denny Barney said all of the options for the building were evaluated before deciding on a remodel.

“We looked at it in a lot of different ways,” Barney said. “What does it cost to tear it down? What’s the value of the infrastructure that’s in place? What’s the value of everything that’s under the ground right now that could be salvaged and repurposed into a new building?”

Ultimately, the county decided to spend $60 million to $65 million on a remodel of the massive concrete structure, which takes up a whole block of Third Avenue between Madison and Jackson streets in downtown Phoenix. Barney said demolishing the building would have cost $9 million.

Barney said the jail was built in 1985 for a little more than $38 million.

“The jail was in use for about 20 years, which is actually a short life-cycle for a facility of this type,” Barney said.

He said design and overuse issues caused the jail to fail. Barney said the plumbing systems were ineffective and the building’s evaporative cooling system had caused the jail structure to “seize up.”

Once the building is remodeled, the Maricopa County attorney’s offices, now spread out over several locations that the county is leasing, will be able to consolidate under one roof, closer to the courts.

Architect Larry Smith of DLR Group designed the remodel. He said much of the outside surfaces will be removed to allow for more windows on the building. He said removing the walls will be one of the biggest challenges.

“Most of them are 14- to 16-inch solid concrete — a monumental task," Smith said. 

Smith said the former jail recreation area on the upper floors will be opened up and converted to outdoor secure areas for staff to use for meetings and breaks.

Supervisor Barney predicted the new offices would open in late 2019 or early 2020.

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