Travis County at last has a site and a development team for a new courthouse, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced that the county will work with a development team on the new home for its civil and family courts, which will be located at 1700 Guadalupe Street on a 1.46-acre site. Most of the land is now surface parking lots—although part of it was once home to the legendary Dog & Duck pub.
According to a Tuesday Austin Business Journal story, the building will measure around 433,000 square feet and is expected to be completed by 2023. Citing an Austin Monitor story on the subject, the Statesman reported that plans are to build around an existing apartment complex on a corner of the lot.
Eckhardt signed an exclusive negotiation agreement with a development team comprising Hunt Development Group, CGL Companies, Hensel Phelps Construction Company, Chameleon Companies, and Gensler to design, develop, and build the courthouse, the Statesman reported.
Mark Gilbert, the county’s managing director of economic and strategic planning, said some members of the development team have worked on courthouse projects in Denver, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Oregon, the Monitor reported.
Plans to build a facility to replace the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse at 1000 Guadalupe Street have been discussed for years, but voters put the kibosh on those hopes, at least temporarily, when they rejected a $287 million bond proposal to do so in 2015.
In late 2016, the county acquired the old federal courthouse at 200 West Eighth Street. The building had been declared as surplus by the federal government, so the county did not have to pay for the property (although it does have to foot the bill for repairs and renovations). It will move its probate courts to that building, while its civil courts will be in the new building.
Before the 2015 vote, the county purchased land at 308 Guadalupe Street in anticipation of building a new courthouse. After the bond was voted down, it began a search for a developer that would buy or lease the valuable downtown lot. According to Tuesday’s Statesman story, the county struck a deal with a private developer for a 99-year, $430 million lease of the property.