Located on a little over 13-acre campus in the heart of the City of Port Orchard, the Kitsap County Courthouse is home to a majority of Kitsap County public safety services. The courthouse is the regional law and justice center for 267,000 residents of unincorporated and incorporated Kitsap County.
Originally constructed in 1935 with the last modernization in 1978, the courthouse needs replacement and has shown its limitations to cost-effectively improve security conditions, life and safety systems, and technology. In addition, the existing building has severe space limitations to economically allocate existing public program needs.
With close to 230,000 people visiting the courthouse every year, this 84-year regional public facility is critically important to county operations. In 2018, the leadership of Kitsap County, with the assistance of a consultant, assessed existing facility conditions of the building and developed projections of future program space needed not only for today but also 20 to 30 years into the future.
Known as the feasibility and space needs study, the review evaluated the condition of the existing courthouse building, security concerns and site factors, culminating in a series of four options. Cost estimates ranged from $130 to $145 million and were well beyond the county's ability to finance with existing revenues. As a result, a fifth option was developed with a budget directive of living within available funds.
On January 28, 2018 the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, after consultation with other county elected leadership, approved Resolution 017-2019 and selected Option 5, a phased approach to addressing near- and short-term needs for the courthouse. Option 5, Phase I includes an addition of courtrooms and offices, along with reuse of the existing courthouse. The estimated cost for Phase 1 is $54 million to be funded through projected Real Estate Excise Tax revenues.
Phase 1 improvements will:
• Improve safety and security for the public, jurors, judges, staff and in-custody defendants with separated corridors and access points.
• Provide ADA facilities to public restrooms, courtrooms and parking areas.
• Enhance vehicular and pedestrian circulation.
• Protect the public's investment by moving forward critical and required building repairs to extend the life of the existing courthouse. These improvements will repair leaking roofs, replace outdated heating/cooling systems, improve security and expand technology.
• Improve onsite parking needs for jurors, visitors and employees.
The Courthouse was originally constructed in 1935 and hasn't seen significant improvements since 1978. With over 230,000 visitors annually, this 84-year-old building is showing its age and its inability to accommodate today's existing law and justice programs. After an extensive review of the structure along with its mechanical and electrical systems, as well as its ability to implement common court security measures, replacement of the courthouse is ultimately the most cost-effective solution of public resources.
Option 5 in the Feasibility Assessment takes a phased build-out approach of replacing the Courthouse with Phase 1 moving forward immediately.
As a regional law and justice center for 267,000 residents, the existing courthouse is home to state mandated programs such as District and Superior Courts, Office of Public Defense, Prosecutor's Office, Sheriff's Office, Clerk's Office, Law Library and county support systems such as Information Services and a back-up 911 call center.
State law allows Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) 1 to be used for planning and construction of law and justice facilities. Phase 1 is roughly estimated to cost $54 million. Revenues of REET 1 will be used to repay a 30-year general obligation bond.
Parking demand estimates were conducted during the 2018 feasibility assessment for all programs at full build-out. As part of 2019-2020 real estate, design and engineering efforts, Kitsap County will refine parking demand estimates and evaluate additional land needs for parking facilities. Ultimately, as part of permit approval, Phase 1 will include a design to meet parking demands and requirements outlined in the City of Port Orchard development codes.
Tentatively scheduled for the weekend of September 21-22, 2019, GeoTechnical contractors will be working on County properties to collect soil samples. These test areas will occur on County parking facilities and properties located off of Sidney Avenue, Cline and Taylor Streets (Click here to view map). This due diligence testing is necessary to determine type of existing soils for required stormwater facilities, constructability of structures, etc. Weekend day work was selected to avoid impacts to County operations and needed parking areas for the public and County employees.
Overall, Kitsap County has contracted consulting services to assist in real estate acquisition, site investigation and development design for Phase 1 of Option 5. This Phase 1 of Option 5 is also referred to as the new courthouse addition to the south and reuse of the existing building. Over the course of the next 12 months, work will focus on real estate negotiations for needed onsite parking facilities and other required site development information for this essential regional facility. Please contact project staff for more information and how to get involved.
Angie SilvaSenior Policy Analystasilva@co.kitsap.wa.ua
Karen GoonCounty Administratorkgoon@co.kitsap.wa.us