Finally Building the Duval Co. Courthouse
It’s been a long time coming, but the final piece of the city of Jacksonville’s Better Jacksonville Plan is finally becoming a reality. Turner Construction Co. is leading the $224-million design-build construction of the Duval County Courthouse. Construction started last April, with scheduled completion in May 2012. Turner vice president and operations manager David Reaves says the company expects to top out the seven-story, 800,000-sq-ft structure in April.
The facility will serve as a combined civil and criminal courthouse for Duval County, and will include 51 courtrooms, judges’ chambers and offices, and other space. The building will be a cast-in-place concrete structure with a glass and pre-cast exterior, designed by KBJ Architects of Jacksonville.
This project was originally proposed in 2000 as part of the Better Jacksonville Plan, and budgeted at $190 million. After project costs escalated to $268 million, Mayor John Peyton cancelled the contract with the previous construction manager, a joint venture led by Skanska USA Building. The original planned start date under this contract had been May 2003.
Turner previously built another piece of the $2.2-billion BJP, the Jacksonville arena. That experience has helped, Reaves says.
“We understood their procurement ordinances and the way they go about procuring work,” he says. “That assisted us, and continues to assist us, in administering the job.”
Reaves says the city is benefitting from the project’s timing, as subcontractors deliver low prices due to the market. There’s been a “greater level of competition at the trade level than we might have had (previously),” he says. “There’s plenty of available labor.”
The project ran into some trouble late in 2009, when authorities raided the project and found undocumented workers. Follow-up review of documentation found numerous workers for one specialty firm, United Forming, had provided false information.
Reaves says Turner, the city and federal authorities have developed a process to prevent this from occurring again. All subcontractors must now participate with the E-Verify program, and a badging process with a secondary verification process has been implemented.
“Everybody on the job site has to wear a badge or they don’t work,” Reaves says. “That problem is very much behind us.”
Scott Skidelsky, vice president and general manager for Turner, says, “(The project) has a lot of scrutiny. But we’re confident we’ll deliver on the expectations of the community. We’re very focused on providing a quality product.”