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Justice Centers in Kentucky

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Justice center construction begins in May

This concerns the Boyd County Justice Center in Catlettsburg. It will be built across the street from the existing courthouse as a three story, 60,000 sq. ft. facility. This will effectively replace the hideous box that was the "extension" in the early 1990s. Bids will open on April 19 and construction will begin in May. The project cost is $19 million that will combine the Boyd Circuit Court, Boyd District Court and the Boyd County Circuit Clerk's office.

I guarantee this will look every bit as beautiful as what was built in Grayson, Vanceburg, Maysville...

Article information: "Justice center construction begins in May, By David E. Malloy, The Herald-Dispatch, Sunday, March, 25, 2007"

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Bids open for construction of new justice center

Notes --

1. Bids were open April 24 for the new Justice Center. The project total came in higher than original estimates and over budget, but within the parameters set by the Administrative Offices of the Court.

2. The bids for construction are ~$14.9 million, with the last projected cost at $14,766,179. This is up from an earlier estimate of $13,228,000 -- which took into account a pedestrian walkway and modified foundation.

3. Construction could begin in late May and be finished by September 2008.

Article information: "Bids open for construction of new justice center, By CARRIE KIRSCHNER, The Independent, April 24, 2007"

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Boyd to break ground on Justice Center

Notes --

1. A public groundbreaking ceremony for the new Boyd County Justice Center will take place at 2 PM Monday.

2. Construction will begin soon after. The project is budgeted at $19.5 million, but construction costs have come in at $14.9 million. The 65,000 sq. ft. structure is expected to open in March 2009.

3. The Kentucky General Assembly approved the project in 2005 and authorized its funding in 2006.

Article information: "Boyd to break ground on Justice Center, Daily Independent [Ashland], May 18, 2007"

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New justice center planning begins

BY CHARLIE PEARL, State-Journal [Frankfort], April 9, 2007

Personal note: I am favoring option one in this case, as it would lead to local streets being reconnected, lead to an increase of on-street parking, and have that 1970s-era courthouse demolished.

The new Franklin County Judicial Center could alter the Frankfort skyline more so than the new Paul Sawyer Public Library. The proposed justice center is three stories, 102,000 sq. ft., and comes at a cost of $30 million. The new library, on the other hand, is two stories, 40,000 sq. ft., and cost $9 million.

Some sites for the new judicial center include,

1. The John C. Watts Federal Building site on Broadway. Some, including preservationists, have proposed moving the federal court from the Watts Building back to its previous location in the old Paul Sawyer Public Library structure. The Watts Building would be demolished, and Madison Street would be reopened from Broadway to Clinton Street. The new judicial center would be built on that block. With this, the advantages include the keeping of the courthouse in the downtown. No historic buildings would be demolished, Broadway and Clinton Streets are reconnected, and at least 50 on-street parking spaces are returned. In the early 1970s, an entire square block of historic buildings were demolished adjacent to the Old Capitol for the new federal building.

2. The former sand lot on the Kentucky River on Wilkinson Blvd. (now considered for a Gattitown and fitness center)

3. The former location of the Rodney Ratliff's metal recycling center on Holmes Street. Is is now owned by the state.

4. The Good Shepherd School property, which is adjacent to the current Franklin County Court House on St. Clair Street.

5. The property on St. Clair between the courthouse and West Main Street.

6. Property in the St. Clair pedestrian block that had a severe fire. (Properties that will now be restored - see later article.)

7. Property on Mero Street across from the state Transportation Cabinet complex, towards the Capital Plaza Tower.

8. Lakeview Park.

The board for the site selection will have its first meeting April 17. The new building will have jury trial courtrooms, non-jury trial courtrooms, hearing rooms, grand jury areas, judge chambers, a law library, circuit court clerk areas, prisoner-handling facilities, court security, and support areas.

The current historic courthouse will be preserved.

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Justice center design bids due June 20

BY CHARLIE PEARL, State-Journal [Frankfort], May 24, 2007

The Franklin County Project Development Board will soon select the site for a new $30 million judicial center. They voted on May 23, 2007 to advertise for an architect, and to advertise for a financial agent, which will arrange for the selling of the bonds for the new building.

As for the possible locations, one on the board suggested the old Model Laundry property in the block from Clinton Street to Mero Street. It is on St. Clair Street behind the Frankfort Convention Center. It is not a historic structure and is a half-block (~2 acres). Two homes in the block are vacant, and another was sold recently.

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Louisville firm picked to design judicial center

BY CHARLIE PEARL, State Journal [Frankfort], July 23, 2007

Picked just last week among four companies, Louis & Henry Group of Louisville will be designing the $30 million Franklin County Judicial Center. Nine firms sent proposals, which were narrowed to four in June.

The proposal by Louis & Henry calls for a 284,000 sq. ft. structure. Other notable judicial buildings that the company has developed in the past include the 82,111 sq. ft Hardin County Judicial Center in Elizabethtown, the $2.2 million Gallatin County Courthouse addition in Warsaw, and the $13 million Boyd County Courthouse in Catlettsburg...

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Land proposals submitted for new Fleming Justice Center

By Marla Toncray, Ledger Independent [Maysville], August 9, 2007

[Personal comment: Justice centers are essentially functioning courthouses, and as both the center and courthouse share common resources, they should be located adjacent or as close to each other as possible. Every justice center I've seen in Kentucky is within one or two blocks of the courthouse.]

The Fleming County Project Development Board met on August 7 to accept site proposals for a new Fleming County Justice Center. Seven proposals were presented at the meeting, and a list was presented about landowners that were interested in selling property for the new center. The new justice center is funded by the Administrative Offices of the Courts, and has an allocated budget of $11,536,000 and will require a minimum of two acres.

There were concerns from both sides of the debate on its location. One side focused on the impact a new justice center would have if it was located along the Kentucky Route 11/32 bypass versus the downtown, and parking if it was located in the downtown.

Proposals along the bypass include --

* One by Mark Hendrix for a four-acre site at $30,000. 2.5 acres would be donated, and the remainder 1.5 would go for $20,000/acre. The property has 11 acres total, has an 8-inch sewer easement, and a 6-inch water line in place.

* One by John Cheap at W. Water Street and Cherry Grove Road. The 5.5 acre site has a price of $300,000, but it is not within city limits. It would need to be annexed before any work could be done.

Proposals in the downtown include --

* Proposals by Dave Collins, Frank McCartney, Wally Thomas, and Delores Craft include multiple properties near the existing courthouse. Each proposal features several parcels being sold to meet the minimum two-acre requirement. Some included homes or lots on E. Main Street, Ryan Street, the Bob Jones Insurance office, the old jail and sheriff's offices, green space behind the Community Trust Bank building, the former animal hospital, the old hotel, and several city parking lots.

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Courthouse vs. their house

By Charlie Pearl, State Journal [Frankfort], September 18, 2007

A new judicial center in Frankfort could take out a row of buildings in the historic downtown if the Franklin County Project Development Board has their way. The buildings are between the existing Franklin County Courthouse and the corner of St. Clair and W. Main streets.

One of the buildings, adjacent to the equally historic courthouse, has been around since 1850. The building was recently partially restored, and features an one-bedroom loft apartment on the upper floor, and two commercial units on the first floor -- which are being restored now. The current owner purchased the building in 2003 when it was in a dilapidated shape and could have been condemned. The roof was in very poor condition, and a tree was growing out of the back wall.

Craig Potts stated, "Some people might say if you demolish this corner, it's only a few buildings. It's not a big deal. This is a big district.' But this is exactly how historic districts die. You take chunks here and chunks there, and then the next thing you know the district as an environment has essentially been lost."

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Courthouse addition rejected

By Charlie Pearl, State Journal, September 20, 2007

The new Franklin County Judicial Center will be a stand-alone building in the downtown, rather than as an addition to the historic 1835 Franklin County Courthouse on St. Clair Street.

The Project Development Board that is in charge of selecting a site and overseeing construction, agreed unanimously in a straw vote Wednesday, to build a new $30 million, 102,000 sq. ft. facility rather than an addition.

In August, Franklin Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland recommended adding to the existing courthouse and retaining the Family Court building and Courthouse Annex. He stated that to build an entirely new judicial center would be a grand waste of taxpayers' money. Then, one month later, Josian Passalacqua, president of the Franklin County Bar Association, suggested approving a resolution saying a new facility "would be a waste of taxpayer money and disrupt the downtown."

Opinions varied and the vote on the resolution was postponed.

At Wednesday's regular monthly Project Development Board meeting, the architect and construction manager of the project both recommended a new stand-alone facility, arguing that an addition would be more costly.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts did a survey of all courthouses in the state, and made a priority list according to the greatest need. It calls for new judicial centers with a security system where judges, prisoners and the public have separate entrances and never meet except in the courtrooms. It is also designed to build centers that will provide enough space for up to 100 years.

Also on Wednesday, the potential sites were narrowed to four.

1. The newest site is the St. Clair parking garage, which the city of Frankfort just closed due to public safety and liability reasons. The City Commission learned the cost to repair the deteriorating garage would range from $589,000 to $2.57 million, depending on various options. Demolition costs would range from $447,000 to $2 million. A five-story judicial center could fit on the parking garage site, which is adjacent to the Grand Theatre building. It would not overwhelm the block, as the adjacent McClure building is seven stories, and buildings across the street are four stories. It also would not require the demolition of a historic building.

2. The Farmers Market on Wilkinson Boulevard, which could be a three or five-story building. The state owns the property and leases it to the city.

3. A row of buildings on St. Clair between the present courthouse and West Main Street, which would probably be a five-story building, although three stories could fit.

4. The old Model Laundry property in the block running from Clinton Street to Mero Street and on St. Clair Street behind the Frankfort Convention Center to Lewis Alley.

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Building at risk called 'exemplar'

By Charlie Pearl, State-Journal, September 26, 2007

Two downtown Frankfort buildings that could be demolished for a new Franklin County Judicial Center were named to a "2007 Positive Preservation in the Bluegrass List." The Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit group in Lexington, selected 25 properties around central Kentucky.

A building at 226-230 St. Clair Street was selected in the "mixed-use project" category, and The Capital City Museum at 325 Ann Street was selected in the "educational project" category.

The St. Clair property is a row of buildings between the present courthouse and West Main Street. It is on the Franklin County Project Development Board's top-four list of potential sites for a new $30 million, 102,000 sq. ft. judicial center. The buildings were recently restored starting in 2002 after a decade of neglect. The buildings date to the 1850s.

Preservation Kentucky Inc. of Hodgenville, will be working with the owners, along with The Bluegrass Trust, to save the buildings.

Much of the work on the St. Clair properties were done by the owners themselves -- Craig and Amy Potts of Potts and Potts LLC -- a company dedicated to the sole purpose of acquiring historic buildings in need of preservation. They have secured a matching facade grant through Downtown Frankfort Inc. and the Renaissance Program.

The Capital City Museum was donated by Frankfort businessman Rodney Ratliff; the structure was worth $600,000, and was once part of the historic Capital Hotel. The museum started out in one room, when it opened two years ago. Today, it is occupying three rooms, and five will be in use soon. Once $100,000 is raised for an elevator, the second floor will be used for exhibits and office space.

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Courthouse on site of garage opposed

By Charlie Pearl, State-Journal [Frankfort], October 21, 2007

Downtown Frankfort Executive Director Harry Carver stated that the closed St. Clair Street parking structure is a bad site for the Franklin County Judical Center. The parking garage is needed, according to Carver, and that demolishing it for a $30 million, 102,000 sq. ft. judicial center "would only serve to eliminate economic development opportunities in the downtown area."

The Franklin County Judicial Center's Project Development Board, at its meeting monthly meeting in September, narrowed the potential sites for the new judicial center to four. The most recent was the St. Clair parking structure, closed recently due to public safety. structural and liability reasons. The cost to repair the deteriorating structure would range from $589,000 to $2.57 million, whereas demolishing it would cost anywhere from $290,000 to $2 million.

Rick Kremer, the judicial center architect with Louis and Henry Group of Louisville, said that a five-story judicial center could fit on the parking garage site, which is adjacent to the Grand Theatre building. It would not overwhelm the block, since the nearby McClure building, on the corner of St. Clair and West Main, is seven stories, and buildings across the street in the St. Clair block are four stories. It would also not require the demolition of a historic building.

The McClure building is slated for renovations, as a developer has proposed plans for a $3 million mixed-use development containing first floor commercial business, professional offices on the middle floors and apartments on the upper floors. It would require 100 parking spaces, and Carver has stated that is the reason the St. Clair street garage should stay.

The St. Clair parking garage was constructed after a large fire that destroyed two historic buildings.

"We've sacrificed enough in preservation," Walters said. "When you start throwing in all the combination of other buildings and other urban renewal projects we've had, we've got very little of the historic fabric that the city once had. Unfortunately, every building becomes precious. If we lose three, or four or five (historic) buildings to this large-scale judicial center building, I think we're going to just continue to erode away and eventually lose so much of the character and significance of the historic district."

-Scot Walters, an architect, downtown resident and property owner and preservationist.

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Old laundry is now top site for courthouse

By Charlie Pearl, State-Journal [Frankfort], October 23, 2007

The old Model Laundry property in the block behind the Frankfort Convention Center is now the top site for the new Franklin County Judicial Center. After a lengthy closed session on October 22, the Project Development Board voted unanimously to make the old facility its top priority. The Farmers Market site on Wilkinson Boulevard by the Kentucky River was ranked second.

In last month's meeting, the board narrowed potential sites for the new judicial center to four. The other two were the St. Clair parking garage, which the city closed recently due to public safety and liability reasons; and a row of historic buildings on St. Clair between the present courthouse and West Main Street.

The next step in obtaining a site is to solicit proposals for an independent appraisal of the old Model Laundry site that is in the block encompassed by Clinton, Mero and St. Clair streets and Lewis Alley. There are about six property owners in the block of the Model Laundry site.

The board's budget for property acquisition is $1.6 million. The total budget for the 102,000 square-foot facility is $30 million.

A building on the Model Laundry site could be three or four stories. One four-story scheme showed the public lobby facing St. Clair Street with the circuit clerk's office on the first floor, district court on the second floor, family court on the third floor and circuit court on the fourth; and 81 parking spaces in the back and sides of the building.

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