Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 3:55 pm | Partly Cloudy 74º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Architects Asked to Trim Budget for New Santa Barbara Criminal Courthouse

Construction cost estimate has risen more than $10 million since project was approved in 2009

Schematic design plans are finished for the new Santa Barbara County criminal courthouse on Figueroa Street and construction is expected to begin in 2018.
Schematic design plans are finished for the new Santa Barbara County criminal courthouse on Figueroa Street and construction is expected to begin in 2018.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

It will be years before a judge bangs the gavel in the new Santa Barbara County criminal courthouse, as the finished design plans are being tweaked to bring down the cost of the $99.5 million facility to replace the Figueroa Street courthouse.

Architects are doing “value engineering” — making changes so the project is cheaper to build — because the cost estimate is 10 percent higher than the budgeted amount put aside in 2009, said Darrel Parker, executive officer for Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

“It’s a pretty austere building already, so they’re going to have to work hard to reduce costs,” he said.

Construction costs were estimated at $50 million and the current estimate is $60.4 million.

The state Courts Facilities Advisory Committee supported the project, but asked project leaders to cut costs within six months, Parker said. It’s still one of the 29 projects classified as a critical need.

The 92,331-square-foot building will consolidate the eight criminal courtrooms into one facility instead of having them split between the main courthouse on Anacapa Street and and the Figueroa Street facility.

The new facility will have space for in-custody defendants, support staff and jury assembly administration. Only the cost estimate has changed since 2009, Parker said.

Santa Barbara County Jail inmates are escorted across Figueroa Street by Sheriff’s Department bailiffs for court hearings. A proposed new criminal courthouse would consolidate all the criminal courtrooms in one building so inmates wouldn’t be transported on public streets, sidewalks or hallways. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County Jail inmates are escorted across Figueroa Street by Sheriff’s Department bailiffs for court hearings. A proposed new criminal courthouse would consolidate all the criminal courtrooms in one building so inmates wouldn’t be transported on public streets, sidewalks or hallways.  (Gary Blair / Santa Barbara County Superior Court file photo)

Some costs weren’t factored into the early estimate, including the $1 million digital network.

The current plan has construction in two phases so the courts can operate without interruption.  

The project will go to bid in 2018 and be built from 2018 to 2022, according to the timeline presented at the Court Facilities Advisory Committee meeting.

It has already been downsized once, but Parker said the cost reductions to come will be in the construction methods, not building space.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The new four-level Figueroa Street criminal courthouse is still in the design phase. Click to view larger
The new four-level Figueroa Street criminal courthouse is still in the design phase.  (Santa Barbara County Superior Court photo)

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