Henry County recently posted a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking a design team or architect for the new judicial complex. Board members voted last spring to proceed forward with constructing a new courthouse. Proposals are due by February 24, 2022.
Update: the county closed the RFQ with no award because of costs.
The county intends to use the location of Red Hawk Park in McDonough to construct the new facility. The park is located on Henry Parkway across from the present-day administration building.
New Judicial Complex
The new judicial complex will include a new courthouse as well as a jail pod and parking structure(s). The county’s preliminary project budget, in its entirety, is not to exceed $200 million dollars.
The new courthouse is slated to be a three-story building with 100,000 square feet per floor. By comparison, the existing judicial center measures about 28,000 square feet per floor. The historic courthouse is smaller with roughly 20,000 square feet per floor.
Responses to the RFQ are due to Henry County by February 24, 2022. The county will review the proposals and identify a shortlist of firms. Then, the shortlist of firms can participate in the request for proposals (RFP) phase. County staff will rank the shortlisted firms following the RFP. Finally, the board of commissioners will consider awarding the design contract. This process should last several months before the county selects an architect for the project. Purchasing documents are available on the county website.
Current and Future Space Needs
Henry County is opting to construct a new facility because of current and future space needs. Beginning in January, Henry County now has four Superior Court judges and four State Court judges. A 2017 space needs assessment found this number could increase to five Superior Court judges and seven State Court judges by year 2046. The estimated number of judgeships is based on population growth and increased case load for Henry County courts.
The number of judgeships is only one indicator of forecast growth. There are also additional staffing needs as the number of court cases increase. The space needs assessment looked at all departments within the county judicial system. The full report is available on the county website (PDF link).
Paying for the New Judicial Center
Henry County engages a financial advisor, Davenport, to assist with financing capital projects. Davenport is recommending Henry County create a public facilities authority. The PFA would be able to finance large projects such as a new courthouse.
Public facilities authorities can bond, or borrow, funds without requiring a voter referendum. Otherwise, when the county government seeks to issue bond debt, the voters must approve it at the ballot box. Though the public facilities authority is a separate entity, the board of commissioners can appoint themselves to serve as its board of directors.
Creating a public facilities authority must be done through a local act of the Georgia General Assembly. The board of commissioners later this month are expected to consider asking the local delegation to create the authority. The legislative session is ongoing and concludes on April 4 this year.
Featured image shows Red Hawk Park in McDonough. Photo credit Google Streetview.