With concepts in tow, Multnomah County wants to finalize its site for a future downtown Portland courthouse on April 16. And the board of commissioners has a preferred site that would put an L-shaped building near the end of the Hawthorne Bridge.

While the group will continue to pour over the pros and cons of its preferred and alternate sites—the alternate location puts an L-shaped structure at the corner of Southwest Columbia Street and First Avenue—they won’t rule on the location until more information is gathered.

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The plan aims to replace the original courthouse, built in stages between 1909 and 1914, by 2020 with a completely modern structure.

The early conceptual drawings don’t provide much insight into the aesthetics of the building, but do show how the county proposes changing the scope of land near Hawthorne Bridge.

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The preferred site at the west end of the bridge has a public entrance facing Southwest Madison Avenue. Bonus pieces to the preferred site include that the county already owns the location, its prominence downtown, the minimal demolition required and that a garage for public parking and potential secure parking currently exists nearby. The county also says the proximity to the Justice Center raises the potential to construct a tunnel between the two facilities.

In the $260 million project that could break ground in spring 2017, the county aims to upgrade nearly every operational and structural use of a courthouse now over 100 years old.

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The secondary site between the KOIN Center and Marriott Hotel isn’t county owned and doesn’t boast the same traffic and location benefits as the preferred site.

A briefing on April 9—which includes environmental and pre-construction information—will lead toward an April 16 decision. 

Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular MechanicsSports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.