Durham breaks ground on new courthouse

An artist's rendering of what the new Durham County Courthouse will look like when it's finished. (Image courtesy Durham County)
March 31, 2010 4:43:50 PM PDT
Local leaders broke ground Wednesday on the long awaiting new Durham County Courthouse.

The massive new building will house the Durham County Sheriff's Office, Clerk of Courts, District and Superior Courts, Public Defender's Office, District Attorney's Office, and Trial Court Administration.

It's expected to be finished by the end of 2012.

Located at South Mangum Street, the courthouse will stand 11 stories tall, and will include 20 courtrooms and a five-level parking deck.

While it comes with a hefty price tag, leaders say the project can't wait.

"I've been here almost 30 years and the very first day that I came, we needed a new courthouse," explained Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson.

The sheriff says the cost will be worth it in the long run.

"When you're looking for the money to build something and then you cut corners, it's gonna cost you later on. You might as well build it right the first time and I think the building we're building now will do that," said Durham Sheriff Worth Hill.

The original price tag on the building was $119 million, but builders desperate for work in the recession have cut that to $75 million. Despite its lean budget for next year, the county says it's poised to pay for the project with the potential for more savings.

"Versatile and creative funding package put together to save us hundreds of thousands of interest," said Durham Co. Manager Mike Ruffin.

Most of the funding will come from bonds, making the new courthouse yet another budding project taking shape in the city's skyline. Nearby, the new human services complex is also in the works - signs of growth in tough economic times.

"It will be very recognizable from [Highway] 147. People will be very proud of it," said Ruffin.

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