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bobliocatt

New Courthouse Rendering: Please start over!

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I just woke up to see how horrible the new courthouse will look like, if Mayor Peyton has his way.

Original Design

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The Mayor's Streamlined Design

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Security center of debate on downsized courthouse

Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran of Duval County said Wednesday he will cooperate with Jacksonville officials on the design of a new County Courthouse complex, but he emphasized that any new building must be secure and functional.

And Moran points to the state constitution when he says he has some authority in the final design of the complex that is now expected to be about 927,000 square feet, down from more than 1 million square feet.

The architect, Cannon Design, released preliminary renderings Wednesday of how the building would look based on some of the budget cuts being discussed to make sure the project comes in at $232 million.

Moran said last week that he wouldn't move into the courthouse as it is currently designed.

Wednesday, Moran said the constitution says no trial will be held in any place until the chief judge designates it a courthouse.

"I fully intend to designate anything they build," Moran said. But then he immediately added, "I won't designate a courthouse if it doesn't have security. The constitution would appear to put that burden on me to make sure that where these trials are held is a secure building."

Mayor John Peyton shares Moran's concerns about protecting Jacksonville residents, said mayoral top aide Susan Wiles. She said the project team is consulting with national security experts to make sure that happens.

The complex, sitting on four blocks of land at Clay and Monroe streets, had risen to as much as $287 million.

City officials are considering several options to cut more than $50 million to get the project's cost back down to $232 million, a budget set by Peyton. Some of those include appearance changes, such as cutting off the dome and using less expensive finishes. Some include space saving costs, such as eliminating one floor and delay building two wings. Other changes include security elements, such as deleting antennas that would allow law enforcement officials to talk on their radios inside the building and reducing the number of security cameras and panic push buttons.

Moran said he will leave the appearance changes to the city, but he said he has concerns about the function of the building and the security.

"If the council and the mayor wish to build something that's less than satisfactory but functions, we'll cooperate," Moran said.

Joseph Calvarese, principal and regional director for Cannon, said the proposed design is functional and even more efficient than the old design.

"I think it's going to be a handsome building," Calvarese said.

The constitution states, "A circuit or county court may hold civil and criminal trials and hearings in any place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court as designated by the chief judge of the circuit."

Laura Rush, general counsel for the Office of the State Courts Administrator, said she has never seen the language interpreted. But she says on its face, the sentence seems to say a chief judge does have power to designate a courthouse.

She also points to a 1981 Florida Supreme Court ruling involving a dispute between the chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit and Bradford County commissioners. The commissioners reassigned a grand jury room, witness room and other space used by judges to other users. The chief judge wanted to stop the commission from interfering with court space without court approval, according to the ruling.

The courts "have the inherent power to project themselves in the performance of assigned duties and functions," according to the ruling.

While that might be the case, Jacksonville General Counsel Rick Mullaney said what falls outside the judge's authority is the removal of the dome and what types of finishes might be used in the building. What might fall within the judge's powers are issues such as security and an adequate number of courtrooms.

Mullaney said the new courthouse will be safe and by any standard an improvement over the existing courthouse, built in 1957.

"The new courthouse is going to be much bigger and much better than the current courthouse regardless of which scenario is chosen," Mullaney said.

The courthouse complex, which includes a new building plus the renovated old federal courthouse, is supposed to last 50 years. But the current design is supposed to cover Jacksonville's space needs until 2020.

Moran said he's concerned that there won't be space for the court to grow, since new plans propose eliminating shell space that would have been built-out when the need for more courtrooms arose. A city report shows it could cost as much as $37 million to add two wings for additional space in 2013.

"I think it is improper and unwise to suggest that the building is a 50-year building," Moran said.

Peyton has said the courthouse is in a great position to add space when it's needed, but that he intends to stick to the $232 million budget.

Last week, Moran said Peyton was "politically frightened" of the issue. But Wednesday he said he realizes Peyton went out on a limb to increase the budget from the $211 million set by former Mayor John Delaney. The original budget was $190 million when voters in 2000 agreed to tax themselves a half cent to pay for the Better Jacksonville Plan, which includes the courthouse.

KBJ Architects officials who competed to design the courthouse have said they can still do the work for the city for the current budget of $232 million, which would include about $50 million that's already been spent on the project. That includes about $7 million deposited with the courts that the city thinks it's going to have to pay former land owners for taking over their properties.

Wiles said Peyton has no intention of starting the project over. She said if another architect was chosen now the professional fees given to Cannon, about $5.9 million, would be lost. Other potential losses would depend on a new building's design.

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The courthouse complex, which includes a new building plus the renovated old federal courthouse, is supposed to last 50 years. But the current design is supposed to cover Jacksonville's space needs until 2020.

Moran said he's concerned that there won't be space for the court to grow, since new plans propose eliminating shell space that would have been built-out when the need for more courtrooms arose. A city report shows it could cost as much as $37 million to add two wings for additional space in 2013.

KBJ Architects officials who competed to design the courthouse have said they can still do the work for the city for the current budget of $232 million, which would include about $50 million that's already been spent on the project. That includes about $7 million deposited with the courts that the city thinks it's going to have to pay former land owners for taking over their properties.

Wiles said Peyton has no intention of starting the project over. She said if another architect was chosen now the professional fees given to Cannon, about $5.9 million, would be lost. Other potential losses would depend on a new building's design.

Now I have serious problems about this. I wish they would make a site plan available to the public. I'd like to see how this thing fits in with its surroundings. It looks like this thing may become very suburban with very large setbacks from the street.

More importantly, do we want half a courthouse for $232 million that we have to spend nearly $40 million to expand in less than 10 years? Or should Peyton just eat his tough words and consider getting the full scale Courthouse Design from KBJ for the same price?

To me this answer isn't even close, architecturally or economically. Screw the band-aid design, consider the $5.9 million lost to Cannon, go with the KBJ design and save $32 million.

YOU MAKE THE CALL

$232 Million gets you this

met_kbjcourthouse2_140.jpg

......or this

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wake up Peyton, before its too late. :blink:

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The KBJ design is much better, though I don't see how that would fit the budget either, it looks pretty eliberate. In general, it seems they are being pretty cheap to make cuts on a building that is going to have longterm effects. What a shame, I had great hopes for this building.

Its not terrible, but it looks like a museum or something.

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Can we email the Mayor, or are you doing anything to petition his decision? I bet there are others up there who are unhappy about this. I'll gladly add my name to a list or email someone up there.

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^As far as I'm aware, there's not an official petition or movement organized yet. However, several people are in an uproar over this on the forums at Jacksonville.com. The Judges are also saying that if this is built, they will refuse to work or hold court in it. It will be interesting to see what happens.

To this date only site clearing has taken place. Since its still early in the process, and no foundation work has begun on the courthouse yet, I think the least thing the city could do is to take the KBJ plans and get an estimate on them.

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(I feel a massive rant coming on...)

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!?! I'm extremely disappointed in the "economy" design! What a let-down! This piece-of-crap building doesn't even deserve the justice and authority it was supposed to have. I think that the mayor shouldn't be stubborn, and just go with KBJ. They're a really good local firm, and they keep on offering, and are pretty adamant on being on-budget. So what, if we have to take a step back? It'll really make a difference in the long run. I'm seriously disappointed in the whole courthouse snafu.

And as far as the judge's intervention goes, I don't think he can determine the aesthetic parts of the building. His only problem was security (mind you, they need that damn underground parking!) and space. I hope he can somehow take a stand, and have them leave the room for expansion. As far as a petition goes, I don't know if we even have enough time to gather enough signatures. If any one wants to start a petition, go to www.petitiononline.com

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I think the Judges have something that the community will rally around. Everybody already knows that the wings being eliminated will be badly needed FIVE years down the road, less than that, when you consider this thing won't even be finished until 2007. They've already estimated that it will cost nearly $40 million extra to add two needed wings. Why worry about losing $5.9 million to Cannon, when you will have to spend 8 times that much for an addition 3 years after the building opens.

Nobody is in a rush, lets step back and do this right. Lets take a look at KBJ's proposal and see how much it cost to build it. If you don't want to go with KBJ, fine, then have Cannon start a new design from scratch. But don't spend $232 million on this peice of s***!

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Thats horrible. The domed rood and all is a magnificaent structure. The second looks really cheap. I have to respect him for wanting to save $50 million but this is one case where the community would be better for going the extra mile on its municipal buildings.

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I would rather have my tax dollars (as if I pay taxes, lol) be spent at $287. Keep in mind, 20-30 years from now, nobody will even care how much the courthouse cost. But the building will still be there. In the long run, the building's design will be more impactive than its cost.

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The scaled down version reminds me of the Prime Osborne Convention Center. It is a big step down from the original version in my opinion.

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Lakelander

I actually just copied the article from the Florida Times-Union in my new post on the revised courthouse. I did not know if you had seen it yet or not but I could not get the pictures to copy from the Times-Union website off of Jacksonville.com so I was wondering how you managed to get them on your new post? I also feel that the new design is not as stunning as the first one.

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Posting pictures is real easy.

Here are the steps

1. right click, with your mouse, on the picture.

2. click on properties.

3. copy the pictures address ( ex. http://picture.jpg ).

4. open reply page at urban planet.

5. paste the picture's copied address in urban planet's reply box.

6. type " " in front of the picture

7. typ " ' alt='> 7. typ " '> " after the picture's address (don't leave any spaces between).

8. click Add Reply button and you're done.

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Chief judge responds to courthouse concerns

Several cost-cutting changes are being proposed for the new Duval County Courthouse.

The Judicial Committee responsible for selecting a design for the new Duval County Courthouse met last week to discuss proposed changes to that design. In a letter dated May 21 from Chief Judge Donald Moran to Mayor John Peyton, they detailed their concerns about the changes and why the original design decisions were made.

Dear Mayor Peyton:

We take this opportunity to express our immediate concerns regarding the proposed options for reducing the cost of construction of the new Duval County Courthouse (Scenario 5). We were asked for our input, and after review of the Value Engineering proposals presented to us on Tuesday, May 11, 2004, we are providing our response to the recommendations we feel produce dramatic results which it is our duty to bring to your attention. This response does not address each and every problem we see in the current value engineering proposal, but rather those items which we feel seriously compromise the safety, functionality and durability of the courthouse.

For several years now, the judges of this county have devoted a substantial amount of time working with the administrations of two mayors, and the consultants for the city (Dan Wiley, Jacobs, Cannon and Skanska) to develop a plan which we were assured was within budget. In doing so, as the result of the two prior value engineering proposals, we agreed to and even suggested substantial reductions to meet that goal. Now we are told again that major changes must be made.

Our current courthouse, completed in 1958 for $8 million, is without question at full capacity without room for further expansion.

Because of the county forefathers

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I'm so glad he wrote that letter! hope it really makes the mayor rethink his decision. I don't think I read anything about KBJ design, but at least he's working on fixing the Cannon problem.

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New courthouse design alters thinking

33684_400.jpg

By MARY KELLI PALKA

The Times-Union

Working off a smaller design for a new Duval County Courthouse complex, Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton is now trying to figure out which features he can include to stay within budget.

It's a shift in focus that comes after Peyton spent about 11 months paring down an earlier design that auditors have since showed would have pushed the project over the $232 million budget.

A couple weeks ago, Peyton OK'd some major design changes -- including removing a planned rotunda, dome, seventh floor and two wings. Now working with a very different design, project officials have stopped working with a list of potential cuts and are instead working off of new plans to see what can be included.

Also Tuesday, the mayor said he has asked the company that audited the courthouse project a couple of months ago to audit another architect's proposed design to see if it can be built on the city's budget.

The latest courthouse design plans call for a main building that has 688,640 gross square feet and a renovated old federal courthouse that has about 227,000 gross square feet. The old federal courthouse space hasn't changed much recently, but the main courthouse's size has been reduced more than 200,000 gross square feet, according to updated designs.

The new building would feature precast concrete on the outside surface, though less ornate than originally planned. And inside, there would be tile floors on the first floor, but much of the rest of the building would have carpeting. The original plan called for a more expensive tile flooring throughout most of the public corridors.

The judges' offices would be on the sixth floor and some of the clerk of court offices would be on the first floor. In between would be the rest of the clerk of court offices, other administrative offices and courtrooms.

Project Manager Chris Boruch said specific floor layouts aren't complete yet, though officials are trying to make sure spaces where the public will visit most often, such as clerk of court offices, will be closest to the ground level.

The public defender and state attorney, along with the law library, would be in the renovated old federal courthouse, which was planned under the old design.

The updated design also includes several security features once considered for elimination. The main courthouse will include antennas built in that would allow law enforcement to better communicate with each other, security cameras in courtrooms, holding areas and corridors, duress alarms and security-card access to some areas of the building.

Some intended users of the building were concerned that some of the potential budget cuts would include key security items. Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran said plans he was presented about three weeks ago weren't functional and had security problems.

Moran, who couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday about more updated plans, was also one of the most recent people who urged Peyton to take a closer look at another courthouse design.

Cannon Design is the architect on the project, and Peyton said he doesn't expect that to change. However, he said that lately he has had a lot of people ask him about KBJ Architects, a firm that competed against Cannon in 2002 to design the courthouse.

KBJ officials have said they can still design a building that would keep Peyton within budget but without the need to cut the number of courtrooms or quality of materials.

"I'm receptive and I'm looking to Global Performance to tell us if what they're saying is doable," Peyton said.

Global Performance is the South Carolina company that told Peyton in April the Cannon Design couldn't be built on budget without major cuts. Since then, Peyton has signed off on building a courthouse with space for 31 courtrooms on move-in day, rather than an old plan that had space for 43 courtrooms, though 12 of those would have been shelled.

Under Peyton's current plan, additional space would be built onto the courthouse when the need arises for more courtrooms. City documents show if that happens in 2013, the cost could be as much as $37 million.

KBJ's Tom Rensing said his firm has already received an independent cost estimate, which showed his plan was on budget, but that he welcomes another look.

"We'll look forward to the evaluation," Rensing said. "We know that it will be a positive outcome for the city's design."

Voters approved paying $190 million for a new courthouse in 2000 as part of the larger Better Jacksonville Plan. Since then, former Mayor John Delaney increased the complex's budget to $211 million. Soon after Peyton took office last July, he set a new budget of $232 million.

He said he won't budge from the current budget. The courthouse, at one time expected to be completed by the end of 2005, is set for completion at the end of 2007.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is big news, Peyton has given into the pressure and is now getting a cost estimate for the KBJ Design. Hopefully, it can been built for the cost, that KBJ claims. If so, then Peyton will definately feel pressure to switch.

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Let's hope for the best! The KBJ cost estimate will put egg all over the mayor's face. lol I hope he gives in, forgets his stubborn pride, and switches to KBJ.

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Now that two companies are battling it out, maybe we'll see some improved designs. I really think a nice courthouse would be really good for downtown and the city in general. i think it would give some added class.

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