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Council hears courthouse proposals
Date published: 3/17/2011
It would cost Fredericksburg about $35 million to $40 million to build a new courthouse downtown, according to estimates from five different design-build firms.
The firms made presentations to City Council on Tuesday night and last night.
Council has been talking about a new courthouse for years, pushed by judges who say the city needs a more modern facility that meets security needs and can accommodate growing caseloads.
But council members past and present don't all agree on whether a new courts building is needed, nor whether the city can afford it.
The proposals this week are a step toward committing to build a new courthouse, although it's just one step.
The city hopes to have a public hearing on the proposals in early April, and then winnow down the proposals to a smaller number.
All the groups presented courthouse designs that "stack" courtrooms for efficiency and safety, and route public traffic through security entrances. Stacking means that if, say, there are two General District courtrooms on one floor, there are two Circuit Court courtrooms directly above them on the next floor. That allows for a central holding room between the courtrooms and central elevators to move detainees so they don't come in contact with the public.
All of the designs also have separated areas for the public, detainees and judges.
Several of the proposals would put the courthouse on Princess Anne Street, while others would use the current fire station site and move the fire station to another location. Some create one large courthouse complex, while others put the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court in an adjacent building.
Most of the design firms included proposals to renovate the Renwick building and other existing courts buildings, either for court use or for other city office use.
Last night, council heard presentations from W.M. Jordan Company, with Wiley/Wilson Architects.
Their proposal focused on a location at Princess Anne Street, where they'd build two new buildings and renovate the Renwick building.
The W.M. Jordan group would put the circuit court in one building, and the general District and J&D courts in the other, choosing two smaller buildings over one larger one to better fit into the scale of neighboring buildings. They designed the buildings with vaulted roofs and gables to reflect early American judicial architecture.
Proposed new courthouse location: Executive Plaza (tear down existing building, build a new one)
Cost: $40 million
Timeframe: 25 months
Proposed locations (two): Princess Anne Street next to City Hall, or current fire station location. The Princess Anne location would see renovation of existing General District court building to house Juvenile and Domestic Relations, while General District and Circuit courts move into a new building.
Cost: $36 million
Time: 30 months
The fire station location would also move General District and Circuit courts into a new building, but it would take longer because a new fire station would first have to be built. FirstChoice proposes to build a new fire station on Amelia St.
Cost: $41 million
Time: 36 monthsCLANCY AND THEYS
Proposed location: current fire station, moving fire station to old regional jail site.
Cost: About $31 million, not including firehouse construction, estimated at about $5 to $6 million
Time: 33 monthsW. M. JORDAN
Proposed location: Princess Anne Street, two buildings
Cost: $32.6 million, including money for temporary relocation of courts
Time: 31 monthsDONLEY'S
Proposed locations: Fire station, Executive Plaza or Sophia Street
Time: 36 months for Sophia Street
Cost: About $34 million