Author Topic: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?  (Read 21195 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« on: January 30, 2008, 04:00:00 AM »
Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?



Better Jacksonville Plan voters were promised a $190 million courthouse, now Mayor Peyton wants us to pay $400 million.  Unfortunately, no one is asking why a courthouse costs this much.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/648

jeh1980

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 04:54:51 AM »
Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?



Better Jacksonville Plan voters were promised a $190 million courthouse, now Mayor Peyton wants us to pay $400 million.  Unfortunately, no one is asking why a courthouse costs this much.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/648
Peyton's Palace? ::) What kind of name is that for a courthouse? I think that sometimes we give our city a bad name let alone the Mayor. I'm sure he'll have to do something.

thelakelander

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 06:09:57 AM »
Peyton's Palace? ::) What kind of name is that for a courthouse? I think that sometimes we give our city a bad name let alone the Mayor. I'm sure he'll have to do something.

How about Peyon's Plan?  Name aside, what's your take on the city borrowing money to build a $400 million complex?  Can we afford it? Should we immediately move forward?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2008, 06:48:57 AM »
If Ron Littlepage's recent courthouse editorial is right, I think the passing of Amendment 1 will change the Mayor's plan to borrow hundreds of millions to get the courthouse done.  We have some serious budget problems facing this city and the county courthouse expansion (as currently proposed) may not be the highest priority on the list of needs.

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In my view, Peyton's courthouse doesn't pass that test. It's simply too expensive at a time the economy is souring and when the city has other needs that must be met.

Peyton's courthouse would require issuing $132 million in long-term bonds. Paying that debt would take at least $8 million a year out of the city's general fund for 30 years.

full editorial: http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/012908/opl_241346335.shtml

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Lunican

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2008, 07:20:02 AM »
How about a $50 per month courthouse fee?

Dapperdan

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2008, 07:37:27 AM »
All of the cities with before mentioned courthouses all had their completion dates on or before 2004 which is right around the time concrete started becomming scarce adn therefore MUCH more expensive. I agree the courthouse should look more like the Federal courthouse, but I think the price comparison numbers are scewed because of massively rising construction costs.

  We should at least force the Mayor to turn the bottom street level into retail. Why does every builder except the city have to have ground level retail?

thelakelander

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2008, 08:28:05 AM »
Charlotte's courthouse was completed in February 2007.
All of the cities with before mentioned courthouses all had their completion dates on or before 2004 which is right around the time concrete started becomming scarce adn therefore MUCH more expensive. I agree the courthouse should look more like the Federal courthouse, but I think the price comparison numbers are scewed because of massively rising construction costs.

They may not be too scewed. Charlotte's courthouse opened in 2007 and we did make a mistake.  Calgary's courthouse opened last week, not last year as mentioned in the article.

Mecklenburg County Courthouse - Charlotte, NC
http://www.ncbar.org/ncLawyer/10/2183/index.aspx?type=article

Calgary Courts Centre
http://www.alberta.ca/home/NewsFrame.cfm?ReleaseID=/acn/200801/22953B2A6DFBE-E81E-D31F-39BFADE899E10DAF.html

While the cost of building materials has risen, it does not mean all materials/building designs carry the same costs.  While a huge glass atrium may be nice, its also not an absolute must for an efficient complex.  Also, the less land it complex takes up, the more the overall costs drop.  So, from an architectural design point of view, the building does not necessarily have to cost taxpayers $400 million.  It really boils down to how much are we willing to spend and are we willing to go with a "no-frills" type of approach.

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We should at least force the Mayor to turn the bottom street level into retail. Why does every builder except the city have to have ground level retail?

At the very least, the city should seriously consider using an urban design that takes up the smallest amount of land possible and sell excess land back to the private sector.  The money coming in from the land sale could at least help cover a portion of the building costs.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2008, 08:34:02 AM »
Another correction for the article: $300 million for 1 million square foot complex = $300/sf.

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Calgary Courts Centre Facts

About the building

Highest point: 129.8 metres
The 20-floor south tower: 99.7 metres
The 24-floor north tower: 116.9 metres
The Calgary Courts Centre’s floors are taller than conventional buildings—its 24 courtroom stories equal a regular 32-storey building.
One of the most striking architectural features of the building is the 125-metre, full-height glass atrium that connects the two towers. The glass public elevators run in the centre of the atrium providing spectacular views to the city and to the Rocky Mountains.
This is one of the largest consolidated courthouses in all of North America, with one-million square feet of floor space and 73 courtrooms.
There are 12 public elevators – six hi-rise and six low-rise.
Approximately 12 million kilograms of rebar was used in the building—that’s equivalent to the weight of 4,000 yellow school buses.
The building contains 22,221 square metres of glass.
At the start of construction, 77,328 cubic metres of material was excavated—enough to fill 77 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
People

Approximately 600 people work in the Calgary Courts Centre, including justices and judges, security personnel and court, library and external agencies’ employees.
About 1,000 people (600 at peak of construction) worked on the construction project. 
Cost and Partners

The Government of Alberta funded the project at a cost of $300 million. The private sector designed, built and operates the facility. 
Partners:
Government of Alberta
GWL Realty Advisors Inc.
CANA Management Ltd.
Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning
Spillis Candela – DMJM
NORR Limited
SNC-Lavalin ProFac Inc.
RGO Office Furnishings
Stantec Consulting
Hemisphere Engineering
Stebnicki Robertson and Associates
AMEC
Timelines

Phase one started in August 2004; Phase two is set to start in spring 2008.
Phase one of the project consists of two atrium-linked towers with a 24-floor north tower and a 20-floor south tower, and a secure underground parkade. An additional 700 parking stalls are included in Phase Two.
Technology         

The Calgary Courts Centre includes state-of-the-art technology that will enable advanced solutions for courtroom audio, presentation, digital signage, communication and remote conferencing. 
Courtrooms: Audio elements include fixed microphones, amplified speakers, digital recording, and wireless microphones.  A variety of LCD screens are set up in the courtroom to ensure accessibility of information for the spectators, jury members, the witness and the accused.  Each courtroom has a moveable podium that allows presentation of video, images, and documents.  Video conferencing, remote witness facilitation and electronic annotation will also be available.
Digital Signage:  Large LCD monitors will be positioned strategically throughout the courthouse, with a large number located on the main floor.  These monitors list the courtroom participants in a fashion similar to airport departure/arrival monitors.  Each courtroom will be equipped with a smaller monitor located outside the door to show the courtroom-specific events.
Specialty Courtrooms:  There are four specialty courtrooms – large trial courtroom, high security courtroom, commercial courtroom, and a special multipurpose/Aboriginal courtroom.  The high security and commercial courtrooms are designed for proceedings involving multiple litigants. The Aboriginal courtroom is equipped with a healing circle and ventilation system to allow for smudging.
Green building design and operations

The building’s design is expected to meet or exceed the LEED Silver standard, which government adopted in May 2006.  For more information about LEED, visit the Canada Green Building Council at http://www.cagbc.org. The building’s operations will satisfy the BOMA Go Green standard, which government adopted in March 2006 for all major government-owned and supported facilities. For more information on Go Green, visit http://www.bomagogreen.com.
Notable sustainable green design features include low-flow toilets, triple-glazed windows, rainwater collection for irrigation, a heat reclaim recovery system, daylight harvesting, re-use of salvaged construction materials from demolition, proximity to the C-train and the availability of bicycle storage with showers and change room facilities to encourage the use of non-automotive means of transportation.

The need for a new courthouse

Calgary's Court of Queen's Bench and Provincial Court were, until now, located in five separate facilities: the Provincial Court building; the John J. Bowlen Building; Court of Queen’s Bench building; Trimac House and Rocky Mountain Plaza. A sixth building, the Courthouse Annex, was demolished to make way for construction of the new project.  All courts were near or over capacity and there was continued pressure to expand due to population and business growth.
There was also a need to improve courtroom technology, security, and to create more healthy buildings.  Reasons for this include:
Growth in workload of the courts since the 1970s
Longer and more complex proceedings
Increased complex corporate litigation due to the growth and development of Calgary as a major business centre

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Phase two of the project includes restoration of the historic Court of Appeal building, demolition of the Court of Queen's Bench building, and construction of a 700-stall underground parkade with an urban park on the Queen’s Bench site.  Phase two will start this spring at an estimated cost of $50 million.

http://www.alberta.ca/home/NewsFrame.cfm?ReleaseID=/acn/200801/22953B2A6DFBE-E81E-D31F-39BFADE899E10DAF.html
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

tufsu1

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2008, 09:39:53 AM »
Peyton's Palace? ::) What kind of name is that for a courthouse? I think that sometimes we give our city a bad name let alone the Mayor. I'm sure he'll have to do something.

How about Peyon's Plan?  Name aside, what's your take on the city borrowing money to build a $400 million complex?  Can we afford it? Should we immediately move forward?

Yes....get it done!

tufsu1

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2008, 09:45:48 AM »
another question....why is a 7-story building considered "suburban"....you all may want to check the average height of buildings in Washington D.C.....like the Supreme Court for example....downtown buidings don't need to be tall!

Lunican

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2008, 10:09:11 AM »
It has less to do with height and more to do with the amount of land it will consume. If the goal is to use as much land as possible, it is not an urban design.

Between the courthouse and the JTA transportation center, half of downtown is gone.

thelakelander

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2008, 10:16:55 AM »
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another question....why is a 7-story building considered "suburban"....you all may want to check the average height of buildings in Washington D.C.....like the Supreme Court for example....downtown buidings don't need to be tall!

Go to Houston, Atlanta or Orlando and you'll see several examples of 20 story suburban oriented buildings. Its not as much about the height as it is about the land area consumed and the poor relationship with the urban fabric around it.  If you take a look at the comparison buildings shown or do a google earth aerial search, you'll find they tend to abut the sidewalk in a compact manner, which leads to the formation of an urban street edge and less land used by the complex.  

On the other hand, our current plan involves closing a street and leaves what appears to be rarely usable yard space between the sidewalk and building edge.  Cut the footprint in half by going up 14 stories, then line the building's wall directly on the sidewalk (which would be more in line with how downtown's building fabric has historically developed) and you have an urban footprint with half the amount of land used.  That land saved can then be sold back to the private sector which then helps reduce the taxpayer's ultimate expense for this project and leads to a more compact vibrant downtown scene.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

tufsu1

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2008, 10:51:59 AM »
its called creating a "signature" landmark building....that's what public buildings should be....think of the old City Hall....did it fill an entire block with the building up against the sidewalk?

I agree that the building takes up a lot of land....but space is not much of a problem for many parts of our downtown (yes I realize that's because buildings were torn down)....you all keep saying sell the land back to the private sector.....there alreday is plenty of property available in/near downtown....and there doesn't seem to be many takers!

tufsu1

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2008, 10:54:35 AM »
oh yeah...if you could post a site plan, it might help your argument....I mean from what I see, the builkding likely meets the sidewalk on 3 sides....and I don't see where any streets are guarnteed to be closed.

thelakelander

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Re: Duval County Courthouse: How much is too much?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2008, 11:10:19 AM »
its called creating a "signature" landmark building....that's what public buildings should be....think of the old City Hall....did it fill an entire block with the building up against the sidewalk?

There's no rule that equates huge or minimum setbacks with "signature design".  A competent designer should be able to handle both settings if the will is there.  Nevertheless the most important thing revolves around how much is too much to spend on a "signature design" when the municipality does not have the money?  If all you can afford is a Camry, you shouldn't be at the lot looking for a Lexus.  That's the biggest and most important element of this situation right now.

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I agree that the building takes up a lot of land....but space is not much of a problem for many parts of our downtown (yes I realize that's because buildings were torn down)

The courthouse should not be designed in a fashion that does not consider the surrounding urban fabric, especially downtown.  This type of thinking kills connectivity and results in projects like the Main Street Pocket Park, the failed LaVilla plan and the Landing (in its current configuration that turns its back to Laura Street). 

Its one thing if our overall goal is to create a Southpoint part II, but if we want a vibrant walkable urban core, density, in terms of building fabric and residential population is the key.  To continue approving horizontal projects with poor street interaction, only because the land is there, on enhances downtown's obstacles that it has to overcome.

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....you all keep saying sell the land back to the private sector.....there alreday is plenty of property available in/near downtown....and there doesn't seem to be many takers!

You can't just say there aren't many takers when you have a big hole in the heart of downtown and the city still has no grand vision of what they want the core to be.  If we can figure out the courthouse, transportation center and convention center issues, you will see an increase of interest on nearby properties from the private sector (at least this is how it works in most cities).
« Last Edit: January 30, 2008, 11:15:21 AM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali