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Bend’s century-old AJ Tucker Building receives no bids to be deconstructed, moved for courthouse expansion

(Update: Adding video, comments from Deschutes County facilities director, district attorney)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The century-old AJ Tucker Building in downtown Bend has to be taken apart, stone by stone and reassembled by whoever wants it. But no one made a bid to get it out of the way of the Deschutes County Courthouse expansion, leaving county officials to figure out what to do next.

The AJ Tucker Building at 202 NW Greenwood Avenue originally opened in 1919, after A.J. Tucker came to Bend in 1916. He soon set his sights on building, and went on to create several of Bend's early stone structures. It took a full year to cut the lava stone to build his blacksmith and carpentry shop.

County Facilities Director Lee Randall told NewsChannel 21 on Friday, "The building as of yesterday is no longer for sale. That's one of the first steps that's required under city of Bend code."

Randall is overseeing plans to move the A.J. Tucker Building, which is constructed of pure lava rock. The county, which owns the building, had hoped to sell it to a buyer willing to relocate it. Now, with no buyer stepping up, there's a change in plans.

"So our next steps are to complete the application with the city of Bend Landmarks Commission, and propose how we will remove the building, and go from there," Randall explained.

Because it's a historical building, the city of Bend's code requires a buyer to submit an application to reconstruct the building at a new site.

District Attorney Stephen Gunnels shared with us some fond memories of the over-century old building, which for now is still occupied by county workers.

"When I started out as a lawyer, the AJ Tucker Building was the county law library, and I spent a lot of hours in the law library," he recalled. "My strongest memory of that building is the smell -- that old book smell and the dust in that building when it was a law library. I'm going to miss that."

Although he has great memories of the old building, the DA sees the need for an expansion of the courthouse, as new judges were added in recent years.

"Extra court space allows for more courtrooms, more judges with their own courtrooms, and more trials will be able to go," he said.

The county has a goal of moving the Tucker building by August, to clear the way for the courthouse project within a few years. Randall detailed where the county stands today on expanding the current courthouse by about 55,000 square feet.

"Currently, we're in the schematic design phase," he said, with "secure parking on the first level, the basement level. From there, we'll have administrative offices on the first floor. Then there will be courtrooms on the second floor, and a third floor for future expansion."     

"I think it's really too bad that that building has to go, but it'll be a good thing in the long run for Deschutes County," Randall added.

The notice of proposed sale is below.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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