Extra Courthouse Funds Approved

AUSTIN, Texas The Travis County Commissioners Court recently approved construction funding and discussed building operations regarding the new courthouse and administrative offices on Lavaca Street.
The court approved an additional $1.7 million for work on the lower level and first two floors. The cost was comprised of $906,600 in architectural and engineering fees, $600,000 in cafeteria costs and $268,988 related to other projects.
The court hired Lawrence Group/GSC Architects for professional architectural and engineering services for $899,100, and approved $345,000 for furniture costs for the new building, $81,000 to paint the parking garage and a $39,084 change order with contractor M2 Construction for minor construction and renovation on the fourth floor.
As part of its consent agenda, the court approved a 12-month contract extension for Sentinel Lavaca Management Corp. to provide property management services through June 12, 2012. The county will pay the company $20,000 per month, to be deducted from rents before the balance is deposited to the county as revenue, according to the agenda request.
The court also approved using a contractor management at-risk system for constructing the lower level and first two floors. County staff told the court the system allows the construction team to become involved in the design process and results in competitive bids for every dollar spent on construction costs.
The court took no action on sending a request for information on public-private partnerships to fund the construction and operation of the courthouse and administrative offices.
County Purchasing Agent Cyd Grimes told the court that staff worked on a request for information to determine the best financial options. Commissioners emphasized that learning more about such partnerships did not constitute commitment to work with any particular organization.
Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt suggested that the court should hold a work session to learn about public-private partnerships.
In April 2010, the county purchased the 15-story downtown building at Seventh and Lavaca streets for $61.2 million. About one-third of the 315,000-square-foot building is occupied by private and public sector tenants.