By Aziza Jackson
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — Thomas Architecture Studios has been tapped as the firm leading the design of a new courthouse in Kitsap County.
The project is currently in the preliminary stages of planning, as TAS and county officials decide which concepts will move forward in the process.
“We’re continuing to study options and those options will be put before the commission in the coming weeks and months ahead,” said TAS President Ron Thomas. “And then they will make decisions based on options presented, and benefits and costs in order to make decisions on how they want to fund the project.”
Thomas said the options that were presented to county officials at their meeting in July are considered to be program-driven options.
He said that budget-driven options are currently on the table.
The Kitsap Sun reported in July that officials are considering four preliminary concepts for the new courthouse that range in height from four to seven stories, and include a number of security upgrades.
“More analysis needs to be done before we can say we’ve identified all options available to us. We want to be able to explore all our options while truthing our financing capacity,” said County Administrator Karen Goon to the Kitsap Sun. “The options presented thus far were well beyond our financing capacity.”
Hard cost estimates have yet to be given, however, non-voted bond debt will be used to pay for the courthouse’s construction, according to the Kitsap Sun.
In 2017, the Kitsap Sun reported that Kitsap County officials did not have a cost estimate for the project, but that it was likely to be more than the $26 million the county paid to construct a new administration building in 2006.
According to the Kitsap Sun, the new courthouse will replace the current one that’s located on the county government campus. The campus also houses the administration building, jail, and sheriff’s office, all located at the corner of Cline Avenue and Division Street.
The administration building that was constructed in 2006 is a two-story dark buff colored concrete and glass structure, designed by Miller Hull Partnership, and built by Swinerton Builders, according to Courthouses.co.
The current courthouse houses offices for the Kitsap County Superior and District Courts, and the county clerk and public defender’s office. It also houses the county’s law library and information services department.
According to Courthouses.co, the building faces north and is a two-story dark red colored brick and concrete structure. The building has a concrete-framed entrance with vertical divider in the center and glass windows on either side.
On the east side of the entrance is a stone section, and the windows have green-colored panels between the first and second stories.
The original building was “U” shaped and was expanded from 1947 to 1948; the architect was Kenneth G. Branch.
“Right now, they don’t even have enough courtrooms for all the judges,” said Thomas, to the Kitsap Sun. “Only two of 11 courtrooms are even close to the proper size. They are way substandard.”
The courthouse was originally built in 1935, with further additions made to the building in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1974, and 1978, according to Courthouses.co.
The building currently stands at roughly 139,000 square feet; the county is looking to build a new courthouse that is over 200,000 square feet.
The Kitsap Sun reports that currently the preferred concept is an L-shaped design with a three-story office wing on Division Street and a six-story wing on Cline Avenue with courtrooms on four floors, a floor for the prosecutor’s division and the sixth floor dedicated to Superior and District court chambers for judges.
Both the three-story office wing on Division Street, and the six-story wing on Cline Avenue are joined by a corner lobby area. According to the Kitsap Sun, the county paid $397,000 for the study that included a security assessment of the current structure.
They report that the county’s goal is to wrap up the feasibility study this summer or early fall. Public review of proposed options will also be a part of the design development process. The next steps will then be to assess financing options and address parking, Goon told the Kitsap Sun.
Reports from the Kitsap Sun, and information from Courthouses.co contributed to this story.