OLATHE — A former grocery store in Olathe has a new life.
Johnson County has purchased the former Dillons site at 588 East Santa Fe St. for future office space to ease an overcrowded courthouse in downtown Olathe.
On July 21, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners approved a real estate contract with McKeever Enterprises, Inc. to acquire the property for $2 million.
The purchase includes the 48,388-square-foot building and its site of approximately five acres with 213 parking spaces.
Dillon’s Grocery, which was constructed in 1977 and expanded in 1998, was closed in 2008.
The county hopes to close the contract for the property by mid-September.
Renovations to covert the building into future county office space will begin by mid-fall with completion by mid-2012.
The county plans to relocate the district court trustee’s office and administration personnel of the sheriff’s office, both in the courthouse, and the court services office, currently located near 119th Street and Ridgeview Road, by mid-2012.
The $2 million for purchasing the former Dillons property will be funded by general fund reserves.  It is the first step of a Courthouse Interim Project that is included in the county’s proposed  2012 capital improvement plan under consideration by the board of county commissioners in the 2012 budget.The budget for next year is scheduled for adoption by the board on Aug. 11.  The total cost for the project is $14.166 million and includes remodeling portions of the existing courthouse.
Joe Waters, director of the facilities department, said the purchase is “an interim solution to allow for repurposing of space” at the courthouse and to relocate the court services operation to provide more interview rooms and parking for clients.
The court services department works directly with district courts by providing supervision and investigations for the criminal courts along with mediation and evaluations for the civil courts.
The department, with offices at 18505 West 119th St., Olathe, has a daily client population of approximately 3,500 being served by more than 80employees through its Adult, Juvenile, and Domestic Relations Services units.
The District Court Trustee’s Office, located on the fourth floor of the Courthouse, has a staff of about 40 employees and monitors more than 17,000 active cases annually.
In 2010, the Court Trustee’s Office collected and distributed a record $90.5 million in court-ordered support payments.
The remaining funding (approximately $4 million) in the proposed courthouse interim project, if authorized in the approval of the 2012 Budget, will be used to renovate the fourth floor space being vacated by the district court trustee’s office and other courthouse space for future use by the district attorney’s office and district courts.
“This interim plan will improve the operations for several key components in the criminal justice system which are under growing pressure, now and in the future, from increasing case loads,” Waters said.