A plan is nearing completion to move some of Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring's overcrowded offices to the 15th floor of City Hall -- space vacated by the Richmond School Board.
The plan nearly came to halt earlier this year, after Mayor L. Douglas Wilder's failed attempt at a City Hall eviction of Richmond Schools, which leases the space from the city. Herring, worried about the political fallout from the aborted move Sept. 21, cooled to the plan in the weeks following.
But the plan is back on track thanks to school officials. They hold a lease with the city and would sublet the space, about 2,000 square feet, to Herring's office.
The plan was brought to the School Board at its meeting last week.
"I'm optimistic that it's going to work out," says Herring, the city's top prosecutor, whose main office space at the John Marshall Courts Building is filled to the gills. Other offices at the Oliver Hill Courts Building and at an annex in the 6th Street Marketplace building are also full. "We still desperately need the space," he says.
In the weeks after Wilder's attempted eviction, Herring expressed discomfort with Wilder's plan to move his offices into City Hall, largely because he was concerned that the public's ill will toward Wilder's eviction attempt might land in his lap.
But desperation and the deal between himself and willing school officials may overcome that.
"We're talking enough space to accommodate four to six attorneys and four staff people," Herring says. "That would at least enable us to get [work stations] out of aisles and hallways."
The move to City Hall would make way for three new attorneys and one support staff person recently added to Herring's office by the state to help alleviate a growing case load.
Herring says the staffer and three new attorneys have already begun work. A second staff position also made available by new state funding has yet to be hired simply for a lack of anywhere to put another person.