INDEPENDENCE, MO – With an eye on current needs and the future, Jackson County has broken ground on the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse renovation project.
The $6.8M contract with Excel Constructors of Overland Park, Kansas, includes five new courtrooms, a new elevator and the rehabilitation of an existing elevator. The project also calls for increased security screening capacity and a new accessible entry. Burns and Mac oversaw the design of the expansion, which is expected to be completed by December of 2015
"Five new courtrooms should meet the county’s needs for the next 20 to 40 years," said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.
Space is badly needed. The Eastern Jackson County Courthouse was last renovated in the early 1970s. Since then, the population and number of court dockets in Eastern Jackson County has increased dramatically. Fewer than one-third of Circuit Court judges work in Independence, but they are responsible for hearing cases for more than half of the population of Jackson County.
"This is much needed because we are basically busting at the seams," said presiding Judge Marco Roldan of the 16th Circuit Court.
The restoration and renovation is projected to be done on budget and on schedule, all without raising taxes.
"These are renovations that will work both financially for the county as well as long-term for the courthouse in terms of operations," said County Executive Sanders. "If needed in the future, the county could add floors to the building."
Some of the work is already complete. In January, Jackson County Public Works crews began tuck pointing the exterior of the courthouse, which was last renovated in 1972. Tuck pointing is a process that involves restoring the joints of a building so it is sealed properly and protected from water leaks. A restroom renovation project should be completed by December of 2014.
Space for the project became available after the county moved Assessment, Collections and Recorder of Deeds departments to the renovated Historic Truman Courthouse in September of 2013.