Board begins process to seek site for new central courthouse

July 17, 2014

Central Courthouse replacement project

Multnomah County’s replacement of its Central Courthouse took another significant step forward on Thursday when the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize county officials to issue a site solicitation for the project.

Responses from parties interested in having their site considered for the new central courthouse will be evaluated using criteria that includes a central location; proximity to mass transit options; ease of permitting; efficient construction practices; purchase price and any revenue opportunities; efficient performance of courthouse functions; and the ability of the new courthouse to fit in and enhance its surroundings.

No sites have been shortlisted. The board expects to consider site finalists by the end of 2014.

“This is not just a building,’’ Commissioner Judy Shiprack said before the board voted 5-0 for the resolution. “This is the representation to the entire community of the level of regard we have for our justice system.

“This is not only a major capital project,’’ Commissioner Shiprack said, “but the very representation of the regard we have for the third pillar of our democracy.”

The board action on July 17 is the most recent in a series of developments since 2013 to build a new central courthouse to replace the current century-old courthouse, which is structurally and functionally obsolete. The current building doesn’t meet seismic codes, and suffers from serious security concerns, given its limitations on separating criminal defendants from judges and witnesses.

Other project developments since 2013 include the hiring of an owner’s representative and project manager; an analysis of what programming and functions are needed in a new courthouse; and a $15 million commitment from the Oregon Legislature.

“Once we have the site selected, we will have a better idea of cost and our financing strategy,” said Chair Deborah Kafoury.

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