CUMMING, Ga. — A groundbreaking ceremony for Forsyth County’s new courthouse and jail was held on July 8 in downtown Cumming. The ceremony signaled the beginning of a project meant to increase the public safety and judicial infrastructure of Forsyth County, according to Forsyth County Commission Chairman R.J. (Pete) Amos.
The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) VII program is funding the new courthouse and jail. The jail is estimated to cost approximately $41.5 million, while the courthouse cost will be just over $31 million. Two new parking facilities and related improvements will cost an estimated $7.9 million, while renovations to the existing courthouse will be about $1 million.
The current courthouse is 52,057 square feet. It was reconstructed in 1976 after a fire and remodeled in 1996, according to a statement by Forsyth County Manager Doug Derrer. The jail was constructed in 1976 as well and is 22,714 square feet. Rapid population growth in the county since 1976 and newly constructed judicial facilities will help accommodate the increased population.
The new courthouse will be about 158,000 square feet. “Approximately 120,000 square feet will be finished, and the balance of the space will be shelled. This will provide approximately 30,000 square feet that can be finished in the future to add courts and help meet demands associated with future growth,” Derrer said in a statement. The five floors of the courthouse will house the Superior Court, State Court, Solicitor-General, District Attorney, Clerk of Courts, Court Administration, Grand Jury and Jury Assembly.
The new jail will be about 177,000 square feet. The facility will have three levels for inmates and an additional support level. It will hold a maximum of 608 inmates. The jail, similar to the courthouse, has been designed with future expansion in mind. New security features are being constructed at the maximum-security level as well.
Several interesting design elements characterize the new jail plan. A bridge will connect it to the courthouse to “allow for the secure transport of inmates to court,” said Joe E. Lee, CGL, program manager, in a statement. Energy costs have been kept to a minimum as well, with an estimated cost of $1.08 per square foot and efficient staffing levels.
A skilled team, called the SPLOST VII Jail/Courthouse Project Team, is coming together to work on this four-part project. These individuals include Commissioners Todd Levent and R.J. (Pete) Amos, Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley, Sheriff Duane Piper, Finance Director/CFO David Gruen, Public Facilities Director David Thornton, Director of Procurement Donna Kukarola, County Manager Doug Derrer and Mayor Ford Gravitt. The project manager is Miami-headquartered CGL, while architectural and engineering firms include Norcross, Ga.-based Wakefield Beasley & Associates, San Francisco-based HOK and Pond and Company, also based in Norcross. The joint venture of Turner/Winter is serving as the construction manager.
“The project team has worked together to quickly provide Forsyth County a cost-efficient guaranteed maximum price and to simultaneously shift as much of the risk as possible away from the county,” Lee said in a statement. “The project design has occurred with the collaboration of multiple governments and multiple agencies all focused on providing highly functional and cost-efficient facilities.”
Construction will begin this month and is expected to be complete in December 2014.