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Tuesday May 30th

Three-phase restoration of Chapel Hill Courthouse to be completed next month

<p>Construction at the Chapel Hill Courthouse, standing on Franklin Street on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, is set to finish in a month.</p>
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Construction at the Chapel Hill Courthouse, standing on Franklin Street on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, is set to finish in a month.

Community members driving down Franklin Street may have noticed the recent construction at the Chapel Hill Courthouse, home to Orange County court proceedings and the post office. 

Muter Construction has been working on the renovation project since December and plans to finish in about a month, according to Mark Radley, construction superintendent.

To restore the courthouse, Muter Construction has divided the job into three different phases, he said. 

The first phase involves reconstructing and installing the "façade millwork," or special architecture at the entrance of the building. The second phase is replacing the courthouse roof, which will be insulated with a new PVC system.

The final phase of the construction process is masonry work — touching up parts of the building that need to be replaced and cleaned.

“We should be finished with the roof in about maybe a week or so with all of the flashings and trim-out work," Radley said. "And then we have probably another three weeks of the masonry work that we'll be doing around the building."

Radley said one reason the restoration has taken months to complete is the weather. 

“The reason we waited till earlier in the springtime to do that work is because of the temperatures," he said. "We're working with some products that require good temperatures in order to apply and cure out." 

Radley said Muter Construction bid on the courthouse project for the Town of Chapel Hill, and this is not his first time renovating a historical building. He previously worked to restore part of the lieutenant governor's office, which was built in Raleigh in the 1800s.

“We bid on the project for the Town of Chapel Hill. It's a historical restoration project, and I am knowledgeable in historical restoration. I've done it in the past,” Radley said. “My last project was the lieutenant governor's mansion in Raleigh. It was a full exterior restoration of the Hawkins House that was built back in the 1800s.”

Mack Howell, the facilities manager for the Town of Chapel Hill, said the Town and courthouse officials have communicated well. 

Besides minor court proceedings, such as traffic court, Howell said they have mainly used the courthouse as a "satellite" office during construction. 

He also said the Town has tried to make parking available for the construction company, as well as courthouse workers, post office employees and surrounding businesses. 

“We've only affected a few spaces along the Henderson Street side,” Howell said.

The noise from construction can be heard inside the building, according to post office employee Xavier Williams. Though the construction has been annoying, it hasn’t affected business, he said. 

“It hasn’t really disrupted us," Williams said. "If anything they’ve moved the courthouse services, so I would think it’s disrupted them more than it’s disrupted us."

Howell said he believes the project has been going well overall, and he hopes to do more restorations soon. 

“I think the cupola is part of what people see downtown, and it looks deteriorating," Howell said. "I’m just thankful that the council approved funding to do (restoration) and hopefully can continue doing the same thing with our other facilities."

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