County reviews courthouse's $294M price tag

Commissioners Court received the preliminary budget for the proposed county civil and family courthouse Nov. 18.



Estimated to cost roughly $294 million, the project will include a 14-story building and four levels of underground parking.



The court is expected to place a bond referendum on the May 2015 ballot to fund the project. If approved, the courthouse is estimated to be completed in December 2018.



George Tapas, national practice manager with engineering firm URS Corp., said the building was designed to meet the county's 2025 legal needs.



"We've been working very hard to refine this as much as possible and to bring as much effectiveness and efficiency [to the project]," he said.



The underground garage would have more than 500 parking spaces. The first seven floors, called the podium, will house high-traffic court functions to minimize elevator use. The second seven floors, called the tower, would be home to 28 courtrooms during the initial buildout.



The $294 million price tag includes the cost to prepare and build the courthouse and garage, utility work and the cost of moving to the new facility, Tapas said.



The court approved the cost estimates. The county and its partners will continue to try to refine and reduce the estimates, and the court will discuss the issue again in January.