Build a Challenging Municipal Courthouse for Your City

City Court of Atlanta

Lenwood A. Jackson, Sr. Justice Center

Garfield Traub Courthouse Case Study

The Need: Build a new, secure municipal courthouse to meet the needs of the city for the future.

The Challenge: Mayor unable to place the request for new bonds for a new courthouse before the voters for a period of 4 years due to other established priorities.  Solve the problem of having to wait for the public referendum so that the courthouse development could proceed on a much earlier schedule.  Utilize a design-build and best value selection to ensure a predictable good result in the on-time, on-budget delivery of the new courthouse.

The Risk: Judges residing in a 46 year old, overcrowded and unsafe environment, exposing themselves, staff and citizens to possible injury and harm.  Time was of the essence.  Waiting 4 extra years would expose the city to significant inflation on the budget.

The Opportunity: To work with city staff, judges and courthouse staff in planning a modern and safe facility, connected to the new jail and resolving the financing dilemma.  The door was opened to city introductions by the contracting firm already building the new jail.

The Solutions:  

  1. Financing – Recommending the use of excess city revenues coming from “fines and forfeitures” revenue as a source for amortizing new bonds sold to design and build the new courthouse.  This historic revenue source had a history of generating $25 million per year, 5 times the amount needed to amortize the $60 million price tag for the new courthouse, therefore ensuring the ability to gain Investment Grade Ratings for the new bonds without a needed referendum approving the sale of General Obligation Bonds.
  2. Delivery – By avoiding the necessity to award a referendum approved bond offering in the prescribed design-bid-build method to the “lowest bidder”, and suffering the exposure to the poor results endemic in such a process, the city was able to compete and award the assignment to the design-build team deemed best qualified with the best value option for the city.
Atlanta Courthouse Court Room

Lenwood A. Jackson, Sr. Justice Center Court Room

The Result:  The new 208,000 square-foot, six-story Municipal Courthouse of Atlanta, now known as the Lenwood A. Jackson Justice Center, replaced the 46-year old, 46,000-square-foot building that ran out of space a decade prior to this new project.  The new City Court was designed to fulfill all the City’s space requirements for 25 years.  Garfield Traub’s innovative, low-cost, tax-exempt financing solution, utilizing a 25 year AAA Rated Certificate of Participation and backed by an Atlanta 25 year Annual Appropriation Lease commitment to be appropriated from the city’s “fines and forfeitures” revenues,  did not require the City’s general obligation and taxing authority.  As a result, the development was able to proceed without the need for a public referendum.  Ground breaking was achieved by a “fast track” process within nine months from project award.  The facility was delivered under a design-build agreement, a month ahead of schedule and approximately $1 million under budget, five years sooner than it could have been completed under the traditional procurement process.  This facility was designed to deliver up to 15 courtrooms, administrative offices, conference spaces, secure parking for the judges, an underground sally port to the new city jail, secure access controls and separate circulation for inmates, judges and the public.

To find out how your City can successfully build a courthouse to meet your City’s needs contact Garfield Traub.

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