SIOUX CITY | The study that produced 3,000 photos is done, so the full scope of repair needs on the Woodbury County Courthouse exterior is now known, with a substantial price tag.

A consultant, Pete Franks of Franks Design Group, shared a list of $12 million in courthouse needs in a Tuesday meeting of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.

County officials in late 2016 began assessing the aging courthouse building and estimated there could be a $2.1 million price tag to address exterior repair needs. The Franks study gives a much better picture of the building that next year will reach 100 years old.

The supervisors heard the report and said deciding when to pursue and how to pay for the repairs will be settled at a future meeting. Franks said the building that was built for $850,000 in 1918 now has a value in the range from $60 to $100 million, as it sits downtown at 620 Douglas St.

County Board Chairman Matthew Ung said if the larger $100 million figure is used, the repair cost estimate is near 10 percent of the value, which is not so severe a number.

"The public may incorrectly see this as a money pit," Ung said. "...The wear and tear, you would say, is as expected for a 100-year-old building."

In late 2016, the damaged exterior condition of the Woodbury County Courthouse was so dire that former county supervisor Mark Monson said entire bricks can be pulled out of the foundation in some places. Woodbury County Building Services Department Director Kenny Schmitz at that time said the worst spots of the courthouse are higher up, typically from about the third to sixth floors on the eight-story building.

"The terra cotta is the most urgent need of the building," Franks said Tuesday, which he said is now fractured and displaced. The worst spots will have to be replaced, while other portions can be repaired.

Franks summarized the top other repair needs: major vertical cracks at the corners of the towers, window frame deterioration and ground level granite cracking.

Designed by famed architect William Steele, the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1996. It's considered the largest publicly owned Prairie School-design building in the world.

"This building has no equal," Ung said, and Franks similarly raved about the county courthouse.

The county supervisors are planning 100th anniversary activities for the building in spring 2018.

Once repairs are planned, substantial borrowing in a Capital Improvement Plan may be the method of payment.

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County and education reporter

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