Courthouse construction to begin in November


By Dustin Ensinger

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Designs for a new Delaware County judicial center are complete and the estimated cost of the project is slated to be $32 million.

Construction of a new, 62,295 square-foot facility – likely to house the Delaware County Common Pleas Court, the Delaware County Clerk of Courts office, Adult Court Services and Adult Probation Authority – could begin as soon as November.

“It really fits the community,” said county Commissioner Gary Merrell. “I think it’s an inviting building.”

County officials expect to submit their site plans to the city of Delaware by Aug. 5 for zoning approval.

Once the plans are submitted, county officials hope to begin the demolition of the former Elks Lodge at the site in October.

The project is expected to be completed in April 2017.

County officials would like to complete the project as quickly as possible to avoid interest rate increases, which will boost the price of the project in the long term. The Federal Reserve has signaled that interest rates are likely to increase in the near future.

“We need to get this done as quickly as possible for that purpose,” Merrell said.

The plans also call for the addition of a parking deck at the rear of the building.

Many of the aesthetic changes made by Silling Associates were done at the request of the city of Delaware’s Historic Planning Commission, which opposed the demolition of the former Elks Lodge.

“We’ve obviously tried to work very closely with the city,” Merrell said.

The building will also address the concerns of some court officials, who have said the configuration of the current courthouse often puts jurors, defendants, victims and families in close proximity outside of the courtroom.

“The detainees are brought up through the building in secure elevators,” Tom Potts of Silling Associates said during a presentation to commissioners Thursday.

The Gazette requested a copy of the Shilling Associates presentation. However, it was not provided by press time.

The new building is just one portion of a $52.6 million facilities master plan designed to alleviate overcrowding and inefficiencies.

Delaware County’s historic courthouse is also set for a major upgrade, including $8.6 million in renovations and $6.7 million in additions. The renovations and additions will bring the total size of the building to 56,300 square feet. It will house the juvenile and probate courts, along with child support services.

The plan also calls for construction of a three-story, 125-space parking deck on Franklin Street, $2.1 million in renovations to the Hayes Building and a $2.5 million storage facility at the Delaware County Jail.

Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.

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