Courthouse is safe, study finds
Engineering consultants have inspected all courts in the county except the new Children’s Courthouse and Overtown Transit Village and found all structurally safe to use, including the much-maligned Dade County Courthouse.
A report that commissioners received Tuesday states that Rizo Carreño & Partners analyzed the historic Dade County Courthouse, built in 1928 on West Flagler Street, and recommended a 40-year recertification reliant on completing ongoing work including on 130 basement columns, anticipated by the last quarter of 2017; the exterior terracotta and plaza restoration, anticipated by summer 2016; and minor isolated repairs to non-structural reinforcing steel on five floors.
The consultant listed other needed work including replacing panels on four floors as well as securing exposed wiring on eight floors.
The deterioration of the Dade County Courthouse has long been a topic of discussion, with some judicial leaders saying that the building has organic system collapse and significant electrical and air quality issues. But in 2014, voters rejected a tax increase to fund a $390 million replacement.
After the election, Chief Judge Bertila Soto said she and others were asking elected leaders to find $25 million to repair deteriorating support columns.
Judge Soto set a priority of finding a new building even before discovery of problems with basement supports. She told Miami Today in early 2014 that the courthouse is too small for the 11th Judicial Circuit’s needs: not every floor has a bathroom, some civil judges don’t have a courtroom, and the probate division has none at all.
This week’s report to commissioners also listed county-owned buildings and private space suitable for the relocation of court operations in an emergency.