Clackamas County Plans $230 Million Courthouse

By Lisa Kopochinski

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore.—Clackamas County is currently in the process of determining the best procurement/contract method for its new $200-plus million county courthouse project.

According to the Clackamas County website, in October, the Board of County Commissioners authorized staff to consider a public-private partnership as an alternative approach to financing, designing, building and maintaining the new courthouse. IMG Rebel has been asked to provide a P3 analysis, compared to a traditional approach of financing project delivery. This analysis is scheduled to be completed by the end of December. The board is also expected to authorize a final approach to the courthouse project in early 2020.

The current plan allows for a 215,000-square-foot courthouse to be built at the Red Soils Campus—a 55-plus acre area intended to house as many Clackamas County functions in one central location— rather than in downtown Oregon City (where the current courthouse is) due to limited parking options.

The new courthouse will feature 16 courtrooms, 20 judicial chambers, adequate space for the District Attorney’s office, public/staff screening areas, administrative space, jury assembly spaces, secure loading/staging spaces, enhanced prisoner transfer facilities, Grand Jury space, safe corridors for courthouse users, and secure holding cells for violent offenders.

The board also recently directed that cross-laminated timber be used in the construction of the new courthouse to align with the county’s Forest Economic Development and Sustainable policies.

While the current courthouse—which was built in 1936—continues to serve hundreds of residents daily, it no longer meets the demands of the area’s increasing population. Additionally. factoring in population growth, significant safety risks and functional impediments—including a lack of adequate jury assembly space and secured access for defendants and witnesses—replacing the whole courthouse is needed.

The courthouse has been remodeled numerous times to accommodate 11 courtrooms, but it was not built to modern seismic standards.

Through the Oregon Courthouse Capital Construction and Improvement Fund, the state provides matching funds for the replacement of county courthouses. In 2017, the Oregon legislature provided Clackamas County with $1.2 million for planning costs associated with the project. In June 2019, the Oregon legislature passed a bill authorizing $31.5 million for construction of a new courthouse.

The total courthouse project cost is estimated at $230 million. The county will be responsible for approximately $135 million. The state is expected to provide its funding in the 2021 legislative session for the remainder of the cost.

With the recent state funding, the next phase is design and pre-construction, which is estimated to take 18 months. This will be followed by the construction and relocation phase, which will take approximately three years to complete. It is anticipated the new courthouse will be open in late 2023.