Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

bobliocatt

Courthouse advice: Single site or 2

Recommended Posts

By MARY KELLI PALKA

The Times-Union

Jacksonville officials should narrow their focus to a couple of possible choices for a new Duval County Courthouse: One centralized complex or splitting criminal and civil court functions into two buildings.

That's the opinion of Dan Wiley, a courthouse planning consultant hired by Jacksonville to help analyze the best way for Mayor John Peyton to move forward with a new county courthouse project. Wiley's report suggests not considering branch or regional courthouses at this time, though he said branch courthouses could work as part of a long-term strategy.

Peyton hasn't picked a favorite option but should in the next few weeks, said his spokeswoman Susie Wiles. The mayor's advisory group, which includes attorneys, Chief Judge Don Moran and City Council President Elaine Brown, is reviewing plans for how to proceed with a new courthouse. The next scheduled meeting is at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Wiley said the city could also decide to build the one centralized complex in phases. Phasing in one main complex or dividing major functions would require using the current courthouse with renovation, either permanently or until another new building could be constructed, according to Wiley's report.

Delaying a portion of the project could increase interim costs and could "contribute to an even higher long-term cost than might otherwise have been required," according to Wiley's report. But the initial cost for a smaller building could be lower.

Under the current setup, the main courthouse is on East Bay Street, some judicial functions are in other nearby leased or city-owned space, plus there are three courtrooms in the county jail and a traffic court office on Beach Boulevard, according to Wiley's report.

Wiley's top picks would call for keeping the jail courtrooms and traffic court office.

Wiley said the original 1999-2000 courthouse plan was intended to replace the aging courthouse on East Bay Street, bring courthouse functions back to one centralized place rather than having some judicial offices in other city-owned and leased space, and provide space for expansion. Moving the courthouse off East Bay Street would also free up riverfront property for development.

Peyton stopped the old courthouse plans last year when cost estimates reached about $300 million. The current budget for the courthouse is $232 million. Wiley said in his report, which will be discussed at Thursday's meeting, that he sees no reason to change the plans to bring the courthouse functions back into one core area. If there was to be a split, Wiley said divided specific functions, such as criminal and civil courts, could work.

Wiley's report separated what he considered the city's best options into four categories, with various subcategories. The main options included one main courthouse complex, two main courthouses with separate functions such as civil and criminal courts, a central courthouse complex with branch locations with limited functions throughout the county or two full service courthouses in separate regions of the county. Building one main complex phased in over time is a subcategory of the first option. Wiley used various issues, from security, convenient location and ease for future expansion, to rank the usefulness of each option.

While Wiley suggested not considering regional or branch locations, he said Tuesday branch courts could play a part in a "very long-term strategy" but aren't helpful in the present situation.

The city is seeking cost estimates for options, according to city documents.

City officials are also trying to determine whether to use the same process for designing and constructing the building as originally planned. Previously, the city hired a separate architect and construction management company based on best qualifications, not competitive bids.

Other options, according to a slide-show presentation project director Joel Reitzer gave Peyton's top staff, are hiring one company, based on qualifications not competitive bids, to build and design the project or hiring an architect based on qualifications and then seeking lowest competitive bids from construction management companies.

Reitzer's slide-show focused more on hiring one company to do both jobs, which city documents show could speed up the entire process and cost less money.

But none of the city documents give specific costs for the different hiring options.

Wiles said Peyton hasn't decided which method to use for hiring the designer and construction manager.

mary.palkajacksonville.com, (904) 359-4104

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._18232282.shtml.

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

Courthouse options

Consultant Dan Wiley's options for a new Duval County Courthouse complex:

1. One main courthouse complex, either at one time or phased in over time.

2. Two main courthouses, split by function.

3. Branch courthouses, which would include a centralized main courthouse and smaller facilities with limited function around the county.

4. Regional courthouses, which would have two full service courthouses in separate areas of the county.

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Single site. You split it and you're taking up more land again and removing a function of ease of data sharing from having it all in one building.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can hardly think of a worse idea than to have two courthouses or regional courthouses. As to separate civil and criminal courthouses, you would double the costs of security for 2 bldgs and you would have a situation where attorneys who handle both civil and criminal cases would have to run back and forth between courthouses causing us to be late to court. The regional courthouse idea is simply ridiculous given the need to transport files and inmates, etc. The courthouse needs to be in a single large building in a single location downtown. I think the problem with a highrise courthouse is the heavy use of elevators would be a problem b/c of the large numbers of people who move throughout the courthouse on a daily basis. This is one of the appeals of the old Cannon design - the courthouse would have few floors so people could simply walk from hearing to hearing or take stairs between floors. Maybe if the mini-mayor Peyton waits around long enough though, he wont have to make any decision and the next mayor can handle it. Of course, by then the construction costs will probably be $500 million.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the problem with a highrise courthouse is the heavy use of elevators would be a problem b/c of the large numbers of people who move throughout the courthouse on a daily basis.

How does this affect the highrise courthouses in Orlando and Miami or the Federal Courthouses in Jax and Tampa?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cant speak to the courthouses in Orlando and Miami b/c I havent practiced there, but I know that the numbers of people who visit the Jacksonville Federal Courthouse are miniscule compared to the numbers who visit the Duval County Courthouse. I am not totally opposed to a highrise courthouse though, as long as they can work out the logistics. I have a feeling that a highrise courthouse would be cheaper to construct also. What do you think, Lake?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always felt it would be cheaper to use three or four blocks to construct a complex, that includes a highrise courthouse. Then take take the block on the NE corner of Broad and Adams to create a park similar to Hemmings Plaza. The remaining land could then be sold to developers looking to build projects close to the courthouse (like the developers of 323 Duval, old JEA conversion). Construction costs would be cheaper, the complex would fit into downtown better, the park would spur redevelopment near it and the extra land would be developed as private projects that would strengthen the city's tax base. However, I know nothing about logistics concerning a complex of this magnitude.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always felt it would be cheaper to use three or four blocks to construct a complex, that includes a highrise courthouse.  Then take take the block on the NE corner of Broad and Adams to create a park similar to Hemmings Plaza.  The remaining land could then be sold to developers looking to build projects close to the courthouse (like the developers of 323 Duval, old JEA conversion).  Construction costs would be cheaper, the complex would fit into downtown better, the park would spur redevelopment near it and the extra land would be developed as private projects that would strengthen the city's tax base.  However, I know nothing about logistics concerning a complex of this magnitude.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree completely. Another park would be great and like downtowngal said elsewhere, it would be nice to have some grassy areas. Indy has a create 1 block park with parking underneath that serves a nearby government building.

Riversidegator makes some great points, I really don't see any benefit to separating this project into two separate locations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. A government/judicial district surrounding the courthouse site would greatly benefit the area. A central location to take care of all of your "buisness" would help to strengthen the appeal of downtown to all of the visiting suburbanites. Furthermore, a mass of employees in one area could spawn new restaraunts, entertainment, and residential in an area of town OTHER than the riverfront or the southbank.

I personally like the KBJ rendering of the courthouse complex, however, a well designed highrise building would do good things for the skyline and save space for other developments.

And definitely emplode the existing courthouse and use the space for a convention center (being right next to a major hotel and the new Bay Street Town Center) or allow some more residential/commercial mixed use development enhancing Bay Street.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the likley hod we will actually get a tower like the one in Miami though. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a classical domed building, but you also have to think about the functionailty, landsaving, and cost saving aspects of a tower over the previous design. Alos if they realy want a dome, have an atrium that looks all the way up the tower with a dome on top... dont know how feisible that would be though...

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Something along the line of the state capital building would be great. A mix of the classic domed building and a complementary tower.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.