Set on a 13-acre campus in the heart of the City of Port Orchard, the Kitsap County 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 which restrict the ability to reallocate 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 space needed not only for today but also 20 to 30 years into the future.
Known as the Feasibility and Space Needs Study, the analysis 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 These improvements will repair leaking roofs, replace outdated heating/cooling systems, improve security and expand technology.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. The County's 440 bed jail is located next to the existing courthouse.
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. The $54 represents the best estimate, of predesign, of the cost of the site work, building construction, cost of improvements to existing courthouse, parking improvements, property acquisition, design cost, furniture and fixtures, sales tax, permitting fees and contingency. Revenues from existing REET 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.
Phase 1 will construct parking and a new addition to the
north end of the existing Courthouse adjacent to Cline Street. This roughly 82,660 square foot addition will
add 10 new courtrooms of varying sizes and a secure hearing room, new jury
assembly, and new judicial and department offices. It will also include separate circulation
corridors for the public and persons in custody moving back and forth from the
adjacent 440 bed jail.
The “super block” is considered to be the county owned
parcels boarded by Division and Taylor Street to and Sidney and Cline
Street. The County’s consultant was
tasked in the Feasibility and Space Needs Analysis with determining whether a
new courthouse could fit on the super block.
All of the preliminary options presented confirmed that the new
courthouse could fit on the super block but that additional property would need
to be acquired to meet parking requirements.
Superior Court offices and courtrooms will be moving into
the new wing which will free up offices and courtrooms in the existing
Courthouse. The County plans to make
minor modifications to the existing courthouse to accommodate the
redistribution of those offices and departments remaining in the existing
The preliminary options presented were estimated between $130
to $145 million. While the County had
bonding authority to sell bonds to fund all phases, it was determined that
bonding in phases was a better approach given the County’s REET revenue
projections and existing debt obligations.
As other, older debt obligations retire, the County will look to financing
the next phase of the project.
County, City of Port Orchard and Thomas Architecture Studio
(TAS) hosted a public presentation on January 22, 2020 at the County’s
Administration Building. Click here to watch the presentation recorded by BKAT. Links to the presentation material and a video
can be found in the resource section of this page.
County’s consultants have been meeting with the County’s
technical team and departments to develop detailed programming which will determine
final square footage needs for the various departments. Programming also helps in the Courthouse
Master Plan and schematic design of all phases which will detail how the all phases
will fit and connect.
County contractors have also been meeting with owners of
adjacent properties that the County is seeking to acquire for parking. Parking improvements are included in Phase 1
as the addition will displace existing parking.
Eric BakerPolicy Managerebaker@co.kitsap.wa.us
Karen GoonCounty Administratorkgoon@co.kitsap.wa.us