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Front Page » Top Stories » Vote could replace county courthouse

Vote could replace county courthouse

Written by on July 16, 2014
Vote could replace county courthouse

Miami-Dade voters might be asked to cast ballots this fall on whether the county should issue general obligation bonds to fund a new courthouse.

With a 10-0 vote, commissioners Tuesday directed staff to come back to elected officials with a report detailing the capital construction needs for a new courthouse. The existing vintage 1925 Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 W Flagler St., has been undergoing a $30 million renovation. Problems with the 28-story building include deterioration, such as water leaks and cracks in columns.

Chief Judge Bertila Soto has advocated for a new courthouse and has previously told Miami Today that a new facility is needed because of space concerns at the current facility.

According to Tuesday’s legislation, sponsored by Commissioner Xavier Suarez, the facility is “aging and no longer able to meet the needs of Miami-Dade County.”

Commissioners are to decide Sept. 3 whether to hold the referendum. If they green-light the initiative, the question would go to voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.

For now, however, county staff is to work with Chief Judge Soto to detail the capital construction needs for a new courthouse and the projected costs of a new courthouse design, county records show.

At the least, staff’s report is to analyze and recommend alternatives for funding emergency repairs at the existing building, acquiring land for a new civil courthouse, and the design as well as construction of a new main civil courthouse as well as four other courthouses throughout the county.

Among organizations that have stepped up and offered help: All Aboard Florida, the proposed rail line to connect Miami and Orlando.

The company, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries LLC, has discussed developing a courthouse through a public-private partnership.

All Aboard Florida plans to build a nearly 9-acre terminal in downtown Miami just west of the existing courthouse. But a spot for a possible future courthouse hasn’t been picked. Renderings and plans for the company’s 3-acre downtown terminal don’t depict a courthouse.

The Miami-Dade County Courthouse houses the county clerk’s operation. County, civil and probate cases are heard at this courthouse.

In the 1980s, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

6 Responses to Vote could replace county courthouse

  1. DC Copeland

    July 16, 2014 at 10:13 am

    So what would happen to the old courthouse? Since it’s registered as an historic structure, it can’t be torn down, right? Is it so unsafe it can’t be used for anything? Will the millions already being spent to rehab the building, won’t that keep it going for another 20 years? If so, why not keep using the courthouse and approach that problem then?

  2. marc

    July 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    DC, I think the driving force is the lack of space in the old building. The city has outgrown this building. It most certainly would not get torn down but I don’t know what other uses it would be good for other than city business.

  3. Juan Carlos Contreras

    July 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    The old, historic courthouse could be used as the new City of Miami City Hall. Miami needs a more appropriately-sized city hall for a city its size. It’s time.

  4. Nick

    July 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

    The existing civil courthouse is a gem. Al Capone was tried in that building (back when it was a criminal courthouse). It’s got a lot of history. I suppose it is a bit crowded — some of the judges have pretty small courtrooms, sometimes with a pillar dead in the center of a small room. I suspect they want something more spacious like in WPB.

    But the current building works just fine, and it’s really beautiful. It can be turned into a municipal building, or even an office, if they decide to move to a new building.

  5. David

    July 19, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    If a new courthouse is built could the old one be used as a city hall for Miami? That would make a bold statement for the city and free up the current city hall for a Pan Am museum.

  6. FCabrera

    July 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Given the current financial situation if we can get the current courthouse in good working condition for 30 million it is better than spending an estimated 550 million on a new location. One thought, the old Federal Courthouse near the the Dade County jail is no longer in operation (all court operations are now in the new, mostly empty federal courthouse). Could the county purchase that building from the federal government and move all or most operations to that building? It would save considerable money. If the old courthouse has to be abandoned it should be turned into a Florida museum…afterall at one time that building was the tallest in the south