Nearly year after opening, courthouse questions remain

Courthouse hasn't yet passed final inspection; new state attorney's office not started

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The new Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville has been open for nearly 11 months, but there are still many questions about the cost and operations.

New state attorney's offices that were suppose to be done last year have not even been started, and the courthouse has yet to pass inspection.

Currently, the courthouse is operating under a temporary certificate of occupancy. The plan for its final inspection is for it to be done next week.

"Right now no reason why this should not be a problem," city spokesman David DeCamp said. "However, there is an inspection in place. It's been an expensive building, and we want to make sure it's done right. ... There is no additional cost. Mayor (Alvin) Brown has held the line on cost on this."

Where there are delays is at the old federal courthouse (pictured below), which will eventually be turned into the new state attorney's office. It was supposed to open last year, but cost and delays kept that from happening. Right now the plan is for it to be done in December 2014.

The state attorney's office continues to run out of its old office along the river, and staff commutes to the courthouse.

State Attorney Angela Corey recently emailed the city letting them know where she stands on the issue. The email says, "It's regrettable that the city decision in 2012 has caused great inefficiency to the operations."

Corey said she has also been concerned about the condition and the health of the current building her office is housed in, and time is important to get to the new location.

As for the building, when it's done, the city will shell out 75 percent of the first floor, keeping it empty to hold down the cost. There will be an elevated walkover built and will connect the third floor to the third floor of the courthouse.

City Council members have been very involved in the courthouse saga, and council President Bill Bishop says a lot more information about what went wrong is still needed.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of financial information that has to be provided," Bishop said. "There is a lot of research that has to be done. We have to find out what happened and when, who did what and how much where we charged. There is a long way to go to close that thing out."

Bishop said he is not about to spend another penny on the project.

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