Board briefed on milestones, design, outreach and next steps for new central courthouse

June 24, 2016

From left: Project Manager JD Deschamps, Owner’s Representative Mike Day: Presiding Judge Nan Waller; and Director of Government Relations Claudia Black

UPDATED June 30, 2016 -  The Board of County Commissioners approved the resolution to move forward with the next phase of the project, FAC 1 Project Design and Construction

Original Story 

On Thursday June 23, the Central Courthouse project team updated the Board of County Commissioners on the latest design, outreach, milestones and next steps for the new central courthouse.

The update is part of regularly scheduled board briefings on the progress of the critical facility, which will be located near the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. It will replace the seismically unsafe and functionally obsolete courthouse on S.W. 4th Avenue and Main Street.  

Project Manager JD Deschamps explained that roughly 50 percent of design on the project is complete. The structure will include 44 courtrooms and stand 325 feet tall. Portland’s City Council approved a height increase in early June.    

“Unanimous vote,” said Deschamps, in reference to the City Council vote. “Commissioner (Nick) Fish even added prior to his vote, ’Beautiful design for a much needed building.’ My architects were glowing when they heard those words.”

The project team has been working with the city, stakeholders, and members of the community on the building height and design. The team is seeking approval from Portland’s Design Commission and the Historic Landmarks Commission, to perfect and enhance the civic pillar near Portland’s waterfront.  

Presenters at Thursday’s meeting explained that more than a dozen outreach and engagement events have been held in the past twelve months and more are planned for the multi-million dollar project.  

Stakeholders were invited to view mock-up versions of criminal, civil and high volume courts in April and May. The project team also met with neighbors and interest groups like the Multnomah Bar Association and Elders in Action. And as part of the county’s commitment to inclusion and efforts to bring on local businesses and those owned by minorities and women, the team set important outreach goals that have resulted in “substantial partnerships” with women and minority-owned businesses according to Owner’s Representative Mike Day.

“You made a deliberate priority to support MWESB [businesses] and it looks like it’s going well, said Commissioner Loretta Smith. “So thank you for all of the work that you have done on this.”

Day updated the board on the construction staging yard just north of the new courthouse site off Naito Parkway and the covered walkways, construction debris netting, and periodic sidewalk and lane closures that will accompany the project.

“The overall theme here is maintaining the continuity, being a good neighbor, working with the surrounding neighborhood and working with the city and with TriMet,” said Day.  

Next week, the project team will seek approval from the county board to begin next steps for project design and construction, which includes early construction work like utility relocation, excavation and demolition.   

Early construction work would begin this fall with detailed design scheduled to be completed in January 2017. Heavy construction will begin in spring 2017. The courthouse is scheduled to open in early 2020.  

“I know there are a lot of people who feel ownership of it (courthouse),” said Chair Deborah Kafoury, “a building that will belong to the people of the county and the state… I want to give you all credit for being there and trying to maneuver through all of those opinions, needs and wants.”