More than eight years after their first public discussions about building a new civil courthouse, Travis County commissioners have spent about $24 million on the effort, mostly to buy expensive downtown land.But they have yet to decide how — and more importantly, whether — to build a new courthouse.
County commissioners appear to be stymied in part by how to finance construction for what might be the county’s costliest project ever, a proposed 17-story, 500,000-square-foot tower south of Republic Square Park. Judges and outside consultants have urged the commissioners to build it with a private partner, which would somewhat limit the county’s financial responsibility.
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Key dates in considering a new courthouse
Feb. 18, 2003: Judge John Dietz, among other officials, asks for help finding more space.
Sept. 21, 2004: Commissioners unanimously approve $150,000 for planning for a new civil courthouse.
April 3, 2007: Report details needs; commissioners vote to use it to “educate the public.”
April 10, 2007: Commissioners appoint advisory committee to oversee plan for a new courthouse.
Feb. 2, 2010: Consultant Broaddus and Associates presents study that shows need for a new courthouse downtown, part of a $1.7 million master planning study.
Dec. 14, 2010: Commissioners approve buying block bounded by Third, Fourth, San Antonio and Guadalupe streets for $21.8 million.
May 31, 2011: County seeks consultants for public-private partnership to build a new courthouse.
Jan. 3, 2012: Commissioners approve a $425,000 contract with Ernst & Young LLP to analyze building a new courthouse, plus a $65,000 contract for associated legal services.
April 24, 2012: Ernst & Young gives its final analysis.
Aug. 7, 2012: Panel appointed to review the Ernst and Young says build with private partner as quickly as possible.