Construction on the Broward County courthouse is on schedule, with crews in early July reaching the fifth floor of the 20-story project, on the corner of First Avenue and Southeast Sixth Street.
Our Broward criminal defense lawyers know this project, costing upwards of $275 million, is set to be completed and approved for occupancy by the summer of 2015, should ultimately make the facility more useable once complete.
In addition to the new space for actual court and office use, ground has broken on an additional 500-vehicle parking garage nearby that will serve the complex. Another 1,000-car garage is also nearby.
The 50-year-old structure has in the past been plagued by water damage, mold and other unsafe and unsanitary conditions. This new tower will contain some 70 additional courtrooms, and built to codes that are environmentally responsible and energy efficient.
Crews first began working on the complex back in August, with the construction subcontractor boasting that visible progress was already noted. It’s possible the work could be done prior to the previously-stated deadline.
The water-related issues in the building have been a particular problem since Hurricane Wilma tore across southern Florida in 2005, causing significant damage to the structure. Patches have been piecemeal. Additionally, nearly two dozen employees – current and former – have filed civil lawsuits against the county, claiming they have been sickened as a result of toxic mold and deadly asbestos fibers breathed in during the course of their employment.
While voters in 2006 rejected an even higher-priced version of the new courthouse, which would have resulted in an uptick in property taxes, the county commissioners hammered out a way to reduce costs and cover them through sales taxes.
For now, though, that doesn’t mean much to those who are currently using the old building. It’s business as usual, and the old building won’t be set for demolition until the new one is completely done.
As a safety precaution, street parking has been barred on Sixth Street while the construction continues.
When all is said and done, the courthouse will be situated on a campus of 18 acres that will house the county office building, the courthouse building, the county jail, the energy center and a parking garage. As of right now, those plans also include a series of pedestrian plazas, parks and a riverfront walkway. All of this is expected to accommodate growth through 2030 and beyond.
The new court building is going to consist of about 730,000 square feet, on 1.55 acres. There will be more than 350,000 square feet of administrative office space for various state and federal government agencies, such as the state attorney’s office, sheriff staff and the Clerk of Courts. Courtrooms and hearing rooms will include those for county criminal, juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, domestic relations, magistrates, probates, circuit civil and county civil courts.
Hearing rooms will be between 500 and 700 square feet each, while courtrooms will be between 1,000 and 2,200 square feet each.
A 35,000-square foot shell floor will be left available for future expansion, as necessary.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Broward courthouse ‘going up fast’, June 15, 2013, By Melhor Leonor, Sun Sentinel
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