Funding Surge Fuels Courthouse Construction & Renovations

By Mary Scott Nabers

Courthouses across America carry a rich history, with some dating back centuries. However, the upkeep of these aging buildings makes them extremely expensive to operate and maintain. The General Services Administration receives annual funding allocated by Congress, and this funding has recently been increased. Additionally, the recent infrastructure funding available through other programs has also increased.  As a result, the available funding has resulted in hundreds of construction and renovation projects for courthouses throughout America. The needs are significant, and it is important to note that old courthouses need modern technology, upgraded HVAC equipment, safety upgrades and renovations to provide access to the services mandated by the American Disability Act.

A new $153 million courthouse is planned in Monterey County, Calif. It will replace the aging courthouse building and consolidate current operations from the Marina Courthouse and Salinas Courthouse in the county. The Fort Ord Courthouse project will be designed to enhance public access, increase security and safety and deliver reduced maintenance costs. It will provide seven courtrooms and a new parking lot, and the facility will be equipped with solar power capabilities. The start of site work and the installation of underground utilities will begin in 2025. A construction launch is slated for 2026.

About two years after the city hall in Richardson, Texas, was damaged by a fire in 2022, city leaders are moving to construct a new facility. The $91 million replacement project is currently in the schematic design phase, with contractor bidding expected in September 2024. Construction is scheduled for November of this year. The new 100,000-square-foot building will be three stories tall and boast a stepped-architecture design. The current city hall building will be demolished and replaced with green space connecting to the adjacent library via a fountain plaza.

The Westminster Municipal Courthouse in Westminster, Colo., is over 60 years old and does not meet current safety and security standards. It will soon be replaced, and the project is projected to cost the city approximately $43 million. The construction project will also include site grading, drainage and infrastructure work, the installation of underground utilities and a new parking lot. The existing city hall and police station facilities will be demolished, and additional amenities will include the development of a park surrounding the new facility. Project leaders expect to issue solicitations for construction in late 2024.

Officials at Prairie Village, Kans., have announced a $28 million municipal complex construction and renovation project. This effort is needed to address space constraints for the police department, municipal court and city hall. The largest project element will be the construction of a new single-story city hall building. It will be designed for administrative offices, council chambers, and public meeting spaces. It will also provide offices for three judges and two prosecutors, private rooms for witnesses and/or victims and space for client/attorney consultations. The existing police department building will receive improvements, such as a larger squad room and training room, additional office space for officers, and added evidence storage space. Construction is expected to begin in late 2025 or early 2026.

A new courthouse is planned for Quincy, Calif. The $100 million project will be designed to include 54,000 square feet of space with accommodations for three courtrooms, secured parking for judicial officers and the headquarters for the Superior Court of Plumas County. The new county facility will provide space for a secure public lobby, a jury assembly room, attorney-client meeting rooms and waiting rooms. The project will be delivered through a design-build delivery method and construction is slated for 2025.

The Manitowoc County Courthouse in Wisconsin will be the focus of a renovation project that represents the final phase of an upgrade initiative. The final effort carries a cost estimate of $21 million and contract bidding will begin late in 2024 or early in 2025. Renovations that have been made to the existing facility over the past year will soon be completed and will soon be completed, and this last renovation project will involve renovating and upgrading the facility’s dome.

As we witness the positive impact of increased funding on courthouse facilities nationwide, it’s advisable for interested parties to check locally with public officials to see what may be planned. Applications for funding continue to be submitted and this will likely continue through the next couple of years.

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.