KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Work is now underway on the more than $94 million project to build a new Kalamazoo County justice facility.
County leader gathered at the construction site Wednesday morning on the corner of North Park Street and West Kalamazoo Street to officially break ground.
Kalamazoo County Board Chair Tracy Hall says the five-story, 165,000 square-foot building will not only have a better layout but will be more environmentally responsible with a roof specially designed to better regulate solar heat.
“It’s slated at $94 million and that’s with a 10% contingency, so hopefully, we’ll come much under that,” Hall said.
The project will consolidate almost all county courts in the same building, which officials say will increase efficiencies.
The commission felt it was important to keep as many jobs as local as possible while making plans for the site.
“Ninety percent of all the jobs will stay local, so 90% of all our bids went to local contractors,” Hall said.
Prosecutor Jeff Getting, whose department has offices in the current downtown courthouse, says that building is outdated.
“It’s unsafe for the people that are working there and more importantly, it’s unsafe for the community that is brought into that building,” Getting said.
PlazaCorp now owns the current downtown courthouse, but no plans have been announced on how it will be redeveloped. Hall is hoping the historic structure can be preserved.
“Our Bronson Park is sort of our anchor of our community,” Hall said. “Right with Bronson Park are the churches and the courthouse.”
Chief Judge Pro Tem Gary Giguere Jr. says having nearly all courts at the same location will improve operations for the staff and make navigating the justice system more convenient for the community.
“Anything having to do with the family law will still remain out at Gull Road, including the probate court will remain there as well,” Giguere said.
The building will also improve security through its updated design. Inmates will no longer use the same elevators as attorneys and the public.
“If you go into the Michigan Avenue courthouse now, prisoners being moved can cross paths with jurors. They can cross paths with victims,” Giguere said.
Construction is expected to be completed in Spring of 2023.