Douglas County’s elections will soon be run from the corner of 23rd and Louisiana Streets — in a location double the size of its current location on the first floor of the county courthouse.
The new location is the former site of Epic Fun, 711 West 23rd St., Suite 1, next to Rent-A-Center. Its 8,510-square-feet will offer more space, parking and accessibility for staff, poll workers and voters, the county said in a press release Monday.
“The Douglas County Courthouse is an iconic structure but it cannot support the functions of a large county, especially during large elections,” County Clerk Jamie Shew said. “The new space will not only reduce stress on the Courthouse, it will improve the experience of citizens as they interact with our office.”
The relocation is part of Douglas County’s master plan to address space needs. A 2017-2019 study conducted by Gould Evans identified election operations as the largest user of space in the courthouse, according to the release. The firm, which has an office in Lawrence, recommended the office find another space, and voiced concerns about overcrowding during elections.
At the 23rd Street location, which is currently being renovated, a 1,417-square-foot voting lobby will offer zero-step entry, a wheelchair-accessible counter and improved lighting, the county said.
The clerk’s office is using existing capital reserves and grant funding to support the pre-payment of the lease for two years, at approximately $100,000 annually, construction costs and installation of security features, according to the release. Starting in 2023, the lease for the space — approximately $100,000 annually — will need to be included in the office’s budget.
Renovation work at the new site is estimated to cost about $495,000. Total project costs, including furnishings, will be about $637,000. The space that elections is occupying at the courthouse will be repurposed and used by other county services that are also housed there, according to the release.