Howard Co. breaks ground on new courthouse

Howard County officials officially broke ground Monday on the county’s new, $150 million Circuit Courthouse in Columbia, Maryland that will replace the county’s current, 175-year-old courthouse, which no longer meets the county’s needs.

The 238,000-square-foot courthouse project is a public-private partnership between Howard County and Bethesda, Maryland-based Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners. Edgemoor will initially finance the full cost of construction, and is responsible for the courthouse’s design and construction and 30 years of operation and management of the building.

Howard County will provide $75 million to Edgemoor-Star America, financed through general obligation bonds, when the courthouse is ready for occupancy in 2021.

The county also will pay Edgemoor-Star a $10 million annual service payment beginning in fiscal year 2022, adjusted for inflation.

At the end of the 30-year contract, the courthouse will become the county’s property.

Edgemoor-Star was selected from nine companies that submitted proposals for the project.

It will replace the county’s existing Thomas Dorsey Building on Bendix Road, which is currently being demolished.

The new courthouse design includes a four-story atrium, separate hallways and elevators for prisoners, office space for the Howard County State’s Attorney, Howard County Sheriff, Howard County Bar Association, Maryland Public Defender, Clerk of the Court, and Register of Wills, among others, and a courtroom for a sixth judge, a larger jury assembly area and a 691-space parking garage.

Edgemoor-Star is required to use minority and veteran-owner businesses for construction, operations, maintenance and supplies, with a minimum 15% of subcontracting goals.

“Our new courthouse will enhance public safety and security, will also improving sustainability,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.

“The current courthouse is almost two centuries old and is simply not equipped to handle our population, increased caseloads, technology needs and maximize victim safety,” he said.

The new courthouse project is the largest capital project in Howard County’s history.

The new building will be certified at least LEED Silver for sustainability, with a goal of Gold LEED status.

Edgemoor-Star has more than $3 billion public-private partnership projects either complete or under development, including Va. 28 Corridor improvements in Virginia’s Loudoun and Fairfax counties, an airport terminal modernization project at Kansas City International Airport and the University of California, San Francisco Sandler Neuroscience Center.

Below is an animation of the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse, courtesy of Howard County and Edgemoor-Star America:

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