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April 16, 2015

Snohomish County picks site for its new $162M courthouse

Journal Construction Editor

Image by Heery International [enlarge]
The courthouse will be eight levels with a basement. It’s about 100,000 square feet larger than the existing space.

Snohomish County officials have decided the best place for a new $162 million county courthouse is across the street from the current courthouse in downtown Everett.

The county had been seeking a consultant to help with site selection, but last week canceled the RFQ and decided to go with the site at the corner of Oakes Avenue and Wall Street. It is a county-owned parking lot adjacent to Xfinity Arena.

One of the sticking points had been agreeing with the city about parking.

A deal was recently made with the city to lease 300 parking stalls in a future city-funded parking garage, according to Mark Thunberg, facilities management department director for the county.

“We have a (proposed) agreement with the city and everybody is happy,” Thunberg said.

City Communications Director Meghan Pembroke said no site has been picked for the garage, but the agreement calls for it to be located within the 10 city blocks bounded by Broadway and Colby, Hewitt and Pacific avenues.

She said the agreement, which is under SEPA review, states the city has 15 years to build the garage. Other details have not been put together.

Thunberg said the county doesn't need more parking now, but could in the future if it redevelops the old courthouse site.

Heery International has been working on design of the new 253,000-square-foot courthouse, which will be eight stories plus a basement. Thunberg said it will be structural steel with a mix of exterior finishes.

Snohomish County's existing courthouse is 117,000 square feet, and another 40,000 square feet is used for court operations in the historic Mission Building, which connects to the courthouse through an enclosed walkway.

Thunberg said the new building will have three levels of circulation so that inmates, judicial staff and the public don't mix. A large holding area will be in the basement.

Why not remodel the old courthouse?

Thunberg said there are “significant issues” with the structure and it's not up to seismic code. It also contains asbestos and the HVAC systems are shot.

“It's a lot cheaper to take it down than to keep it running,” he said.

Heery is facing a May 22 deadline to finish design development.

Hoffman Construction is expected to start work on the new courthouse July 21 under a general contractor/construction manager contract.

Thunberg said the construction budget hasn't been finalized.

The design team is MKA, Sparling, Site Workshop, WSP Group and OAC Services (construction management and GC/CM compliance). Holaday Parks is the mechanical contractor/construction manager and Veca is the electrical contractor/construction manager.

Thunberg said construction should be finished by October 2017, and the building fully occupied by the start of 2018.

The old courthouse will be removed by April 2018. The county will restore the site with grass, trees, benches and other landscaping.

The century-old Mission Building is on the historic register and won't be demolished. It currently houses court clerks, some superior court operations and the prosecuting attorney's criminal division. All will move into the new courthouse.

Thunberg said they have not determined what will go into the Mission Building after that.

The new courthouse will be paid for by bonds funded by increased property taxes. A typical homeowner will pay about $20 a year, according to the county's website.

Thunberg said the new building is designed to last 75 years.


Benjamin Minnick can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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