Feature Photo (above): View of the 1301 Franklin Street 13-story building from across the Harris County Jury Plaza. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County)–The Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday authorized their purchasing agent to issue a Request for Qualifications for architectural and engineering services to develop demolition construction documents for the former jail at 1301 Franklin Street.
The 13-story downtown building, constructed in 1980, only functioned as a jail for 22 years. It closed in 2002 after state inspectors found the smoke removal system inadequate.
In 2009, Commissioners Court accepted a consultant’s recommendation to demolish the building.
In the years since it was retired as a corrections facility, the county has used portions of the building to house various functions of the Sheriff’s Office and the District Clerk.
The existing 602,969-square-foot building has a concrete structure with brick/masonry exterior as well as a basement, penthouse, pedestrian and inmate tunnel/bridge connection.
In addition to being adjacent to the county civil and criminal court towers, the building is less than a block from Buffalo Bayou and has long been considered a lucrative location for commercial development. The jail and other nearby county buildings have been a topic of speculation for years at HoustonArchitecture.com: