Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courthouse Pricetag a Shocker

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courthouse Pricetag a Shocker

Article excerpt

A new Duval County Courthouse, Mayor John Delaney's top building priority, will cost upwards of $170 million to $206 million depending on its location, according to a consultant's report City Hall officials received yesterday.

The projections by North Palm Beach-based Dan Wiley and Associates Inc. significantly exceed the mayor's earlier estimates about the cost of the building, which had been about $150 million.

Also, the report indicates it may be more costly to restore existing government buildings the courthouse and the City Hall Annex -- than to build elsewhere in the city. The mayor had been leaning toward a renovation because he thought it would be less expensive.

A new 900,000-square-foot courthouse and a 600-car garage would cost $202 million, according to the Wiley report, which notes that "this is by far the easiest option in terms of implementation."

The price tags for four different proposals to rework the existing county courthouse, which is overcrowded, vary from $172 million to $206 million.

City officials requested the study to help determine possible remedies for the cramped courthouse after the state Legislature this year approved two new judges for the area.

The report does not estimate costs to acquire land -- about two city blocks -- for a new courthouse.

However, there are some sites, such as parts of LaVilla, where the city would not have to buy the land, said Susan Wiles, Delaney's chief of staff.

While the next formal step will be for the mayor to take the report to his Courthouse Review Committee -- which includes udges, lawyers and development officials -- the mayor will now be able to put together a plan to pay for the project.

Any financing plan - likely to go before voters in a referendum -- is at least six months away, Wiles said. The mayor's tentative capital projects list, including the courthouse, an arena, a library, a baseball stadium, and an expanded convention center, could cost more than $450 million. …

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