Kitsap County Improves Aging Courthouse

By Lisa Kopochinski

KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.—Kitsap County is in the process of negotiating consulting services for real estate, architectural and engineering to move forward on a phased development plan for replacing the county courthouse.

Kitsap County will be developing detailed design and engineering plans for Phase one of the project, which consists of a courthouse addition and reuse of the existing building.

“Following our programmatic space needs assessment in 2018, we are entering the next level of schematic design, real estate acquisition and to achieve project entitlements or permits for the project,” says Angie Silva, senior policy analyst for Kitsap County.

“This work effort should generally take a year and half to complete and largely focuses on Phases 1 of Option 5 in the needs assessment. Ideally, we would like to start construction in 2021 or 2022.”

Built in 1935, Kitsap County Courthouse is located on a 13-acre campus in the heart of the City of Port Orchard and is the regional law and justice center for 267,000 residents of unincorporated and incorporated Kitsap County.

Last modernized more than 40 years ago in 1978, the courthouse needs replacement and has shown its limitations to cost-effectively improve security conditions, life and safety systems, and technology. In addition, the existing building has severe space limitations to economically allocate existing public program needs.

With nearly 230,000 people visiting the courthouse every year, this 85-year public facility is critically important to county operations. In 2018, Kitsap County leadership retained the assistance of a consultant and assessed existing facility conditions of the building. Projections were developed of future program space needed not only for today, but for two to three decades into the future. 

The review evaluated the condition of the existing courthouse building, security concerns and site factors, culminating in a series of four options. Cost estimates ranged from $130 to $145 million and were well beyond the county’s ability to finance with existing revenues. As a result, a fifth option was developed with a budget directive of living within available funds.

Phase one improvement of the project, which is estimated to cost $54 million, will include the following:

  • Improve safety and security for the public, jurors, judges, staff and in-custody defendants with separated corridors and access points.
  • Provide ADA facilities to public restrooms, courtrooms and parking areas.
  • Enhance vehicular and pedestrian circulation.
  • Protect the public’s investment by moving forward critical and required building repairs to extend the life of the existing courthouse. These improvements will repair leaking roofs, replace outdated heating/cooling systems, improve security and expand technology.
  • Improve onsite parking needs for jurors, visitors and employees.

Silva says that after a competitive public solicitation for services, Thomas Architecture Studios of Olympia, Wash., along with subcontractors HOK and many others were awarded the contract.

“We are currently in contract negotiations on scope and budget. It is our hope to have a proposed contract for Kitsap County Board of Commissioner approval by the end of July.”

Revenues of REET 1 will fund this first phase and be used to repay a 30-year general obligation fund.