New $490 Million Structure On Fast Track To Being Built By Fall 2013
By Sean Belk - Staff Writer
January 17, 2012 - As the sun glistened through tall steel columns at a construction site behind the World Trade Center in Downtown Long Beach, former Gov. George Deukmejian spoke modestly about what he said will someday be an “extraordinary” new structure, eventually bearing his name and serving the entire region.
In an interview with the Business Journal, the Long Beach native described what kind of impact the new Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse would likely have on the greater area once completed in Fall 2013. “It will give people a much more pleasant view of the judicial system compared to being in a building that’s nearly 50 years old, has quite a few safety problems and isn’t very nice to be in,” he concluded. “It will be an upgrade for the entire region.”
So far, the design-build construction team has re-routed existing utilities, completed concrete foundation work for the basement and has finished about 10 percent of steel erection since last December, said Jon Kron, senior vice president of Clark Construction Group-California LP, the general contractor for the project. He said the project is expected to have provided for up to 450 jobs at the peak of construction.
“Since April of 2011, we’ve accomplished quite a bit of work to be on a very fast track basis to be where we are today,” he said. “We are currently slightly ahead of our schedule that we had planned a couple of years ago and everything is running as we had planned. We expect to hit our completion date at the end of August 2013.”
The new courthouse is being built on six acres, bounded by Broadway, Main Avenue, 3rd Street and Magnolia Avenue, replacing the existing dilapidated courthouse located at 415 W. Ocean Blvd. State officials say the current courthouse is “one of the worst in the state,” due to the building having fundamental flaws, overcrowding and failing to meet accessibility requirements.
The project was able to be fast-tracked by an “availability pay” scheme through a public-private partnership, also known as a “performance based infrastructure” agreement, which allows the courts to deduct a portion of debt if any part of the building isn’t available during operation. The project was funded by about $45 million in equity, with the rest coming from debt financing through a consortium of banks, which will be paid back by the state once the courts occupy the building next year.
Meridiam Infrastructure, the proposer selected by the Judicial Council of California’s Administrative Office of the Courts, is expected to operate and maintain the new building under the 35-year services agreement.
“This is probably the first courthouse in the United States to ever be done this way,” said Stephen Reinstein, CEO of Long Beach Judicial Partners, LLC, which is led by Meridiam Infrastructure. “The good news for the state is they won’t have to fund one dollar thus far on this project ... until they have to start making payments when they occupy.”
The state was able to acquire the property through a land swap with the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (RDA), which now owns the old courthouse building in exchange for the six-acre parcel. It’s unclear what the future will hold for the existing courthouse once it’s vacated.
The new structure is expected to span a total of 530,000 square feet with up to five levels, providing the South District of the Los Angeles Superior Court with a full-service, consolidated facility. The building is expected to accommodate about 800 employees.
Built with an L-Shaped design by AECOM, along with elements of public art, the courthouse will house 31 courtrooms, along with administrative office space and judges chambers. Five different Los Angeles County departments are expected to take up about 100,000 square feet. The courthouse will also include more than 5,000 square feet of retail space for a food court and a convenience store.
Also, the building will have temporary holding cells and a sally port in the basement, where in-custodies will be held before court proceedings, along with a parking lot for judges secured at the lower level. The parking structure across Broadway from the new building will also be renovated and expanded to more than 900 spaces.
Deukmejian, who served as California’s governor from 1983 to 1991, and prior to that was the state’s attorney general, said he is honored to have such a structure named after him. “It’s really equal to the feeling I had when I became governor ... It really means a great deal to me,” he said. “I never, ever dreamed that I would have a building or anything else named after me, frankly, and I’m tremendously honored by it and most grateful.”