As real estate continues to become scarcer in downtown Fort Wayne due to ongoing development, Allen County is getting a jumpstart on any future space needs for its criminal justice system.

The Allen County Board of Commissioners approved Sept. 18 a service agreement with Elevatus Architecture to assess the needs of all of its criminal justice departments including county courts, the sheriff’s department, county prosecutor, public defender and community corrections.

“We are one of the largest landowners in downtown Fort Wayne, and we are constantly being asked for our land for redevelopment projects, which is great, but it does cause us to be concerned about the availability of space in the years to come,” Chief of Staff Chris Cloud said.

That need for space will become more prudent as county population continues to grow, and services scale with that growth, Cloud added.

More modern facilities are part of the county’s strategic plan.

The agreement approved unanimously Sept. 18 comes at a fee of $60,000. The study will explore current staffing levels, interconnectedness between departments, and which departments could potentially be consolidated together or will require additional space.

“It should give you a good roadmap for the future as you look at properties, look to consolidate, look to sell to see if maybe you’re going to harm yourself in the end,” Cloud said.

The study is scheduled to last a maximum of six months, but the data will likely be gathered over a 3- to 4-month period, Cloud said.

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