Revised plans and costs for Delaware County’s new judicial center were approved unanimously at a special meeting of county commissioners Thursday.
The new projected cost for the 94,450 square-foot building is $38,082,971. The previous estimate was $35 million.
Normally only the three county commissioners are needed to vote on county resolutions. However, the special meeting was required — in compliance with the Ohio Revised Code, which states that a majority approval by a board of seven persons is needed for construction of a courthouse or jail. The board must include the three commissioners, the county clerk of courts, a common pleas judge, the juvenile/probate court judge and the county sheriff. All were at the meeting and voted to approve.
Plans for the building have been changed to win approval from the city of Delaware. The current revisions have caused increased costs for the new courthouse construction, county officials said.
Commissioner Barb Lewis asked for clarification about higher costs. “What are some of the reasons for the price increase?” she asked.
In answer to Lewis’ question, Gary Rutledge, vice president of project management and construction for builder Lend Lease, explained that the current revisions increased the square footage of the the building, causing some of the cost increase. “We had a 50 percent increase in square footage and a 40 percent increase in cost,” he said. The increase in space was explained in a timeline provided by Rutledge to The Gazette.
The addition of a new domestic relations court has added to the office space square footage, according to the timeline. There was also more space added to allow for future growth.
But additional space is not the only factor impacting the increased cost of the project.
According to Rutledge, the availability of construction labor in the local area and state is down, causing an increase in costs. To control costs, Lend Lease is now reaching outside of Ohio for contractors for the construction.
Another cost-increasing factor is materials. “Cost of materials are up,” Rutledge said. Some of the material cost came from the revisions made to satisfy the city of Delaware’s historical preservation commission.
Through reaching outside of Ohio for less expensive construction labor and keeping an eye on material costs, “we’re hoping to bring the cost in under budget,” Rutledge said.
He added, “We’ll give back fees if bids come back lower.”
D. Anthony Botkin can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.