DENVER-It’s taken better than a decade, but Denver is getting serious about building a new jail.

Denver’s Justice Center Planning Committee has come up with criteria for replacement for its 45-year-old county jail located off Smith Road near the former Stapleton International Airport. Present plans call for a 12-story facility to house 3,100 inmates on a 17-acre tract within close distance to downtown Denver courts and police station.

Three years ago, the city had estimated a new facility would cost $235 million. Given that hard construction costs have risen on average about 1% a month in recent years, the price tag today could easily surpass $300 million.

The city could use eminent domain to condemn a site if the property owner objected to a jail. The committee will be looking for sites. The sites will be narrowed down to a select few and the selection narrowed in late spring 2001.

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