KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County lawmakers approved nearly $5.6 million for renovations to the downtown courthouse to make it more accessible.

The Jackson County Legislature unanimously voted Monday to make exterior improvements to the historic building.

The project will focus on applying necessary and current Americans with Disabilities Act standards to the courthouse while also maintaining its Art Deco design and architecture. It will include stair modifications, ADA-compliant ramps, retaining walls, paving changes and more.

“The very essence of democracy is rooted in providing equal access and opportunities to all,” County Executive Frank White said in a release.

“Our county courthouse, a symbol of justice and community, should embody this principle in every brick and beam. Ensuring its accessibility for every individual, irrespective of their abilities, is not just a project – it’s a promise.”

A 2021 report found over $250 million in deferred maintenance needs at the downtown courthouse. For example, the northside steps have been temporarily inaccessible with cracked concrete, uneven surfaces and gaps in the foundation.

Jackson County said these accessibility updates are a “timely and significant step forward in addressing these concerns.”

The nearly $5.6 million will come from the 2023 County Improvement Fund, and the legislature awarded the contract to Kansas City, Kansas-based Gunter Construction Co.