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Completion of New Courthouse on Staten Island Again Delayed
New York Law Journal
The $230 million courthouse complex, which will house the criminal and civil terms of Supreme Court, as well as Criminal Court, is now set to open in June. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein
The completion of a new courthouse on Staten Island has been pushed back to June in the face of minor setbacks with materials and delays following Hurricane Sandy.
When construction of the five-story, 180,000-square-foot complex in the St. George section started in September 2008, the completion date was set for August 2012. But after the general contractor had to re-bid the job in 2009, the completion date was pushed back to this month.
The courthouse will have 14 courtrooms for civil and criminal cases, offices, and holding pens for 54 prisoners as well as an adjacent nearly 700-space, four-story parking garage, which opened in 2010. The complex is LEED silver-certified, meaning it meets the standards of high-performance green buildings.
The project's price tag is about $230 million, according to Ronald Younkins, Office of Court Administration executive director.
The project was originally expected to cost $208 million, according the website of the Dormitory Authority, the state agency managing the project on behalf of New York City, which provides the financing.
Still left to be completed are interior and exterior finishes, flooring, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing work, according to the Dormitory Authority.
The new completion date is set for this June, with court officials planning a move in late summer or early fall.
The complex will house the civil and criminal terms of Supreme Court, as well as Criminal Court.
Currently, the Supreme Court criminal term and a portion of the civil term are located at nearby 18 Richmond Terrace, a courthouse that opened in 1919. The remainder of the civil term is at nearby 130 Stuyvesant Place, the same building that houses the Richmond County District Attorney's Office, and one civil term justice is stationed at Borough Hall. The Criminal Court is now about two miles away.
Once the new courthouse opens, the borough's three Family Court judges will join the Surrogate's Court at 18 Richmond Terrace, moving down the street from 100 Richmond Terrace. And two civil term acting Supreme Court justices who handle the matrimonial and integrated domestic violence parts will remain at 18 Richmond Terrace. The civil term justice at Borough Hall will move to the new complex.
New York City Civil Court will not be moving, continuing to operate about 2 1/2 miles from the new complex.
Younkins said that one of the construction setbacks were defects discovered in exterior concrete panels fabricated off-site. The panels did not meet "wind load" specifications and required additional fastening, he said.
Hurricane Sandy presented other challenges.
Although parts of the borough were devastated by the storm, St. George, which mostly sits on high ground overlooking the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and New York Harbor, was relatively unscathed.
Still, according to the Dormitory Authority, a few weeks of work time were lost because the construction site had no power and then limited power. Extended transportation problems also barred some workers from getting to the site.
Nonetheless, court officials say they are undaunted by the delays.
"We don't mind anybody taking their time as long as they get it right the first time," said Staten Island Administrative Judge Judith McMahon (See Profile).
McMahon added that she and other judges last toured the site in November.
"We were all very pleasantly pleased with how the courtrooms and chambers were looking," she said.
Younkins called the latest delay "fairly minor," adding, "We're pleased with the project. It's a very much needed courthouse."
Thomas Sipp of The Sipp Law Firm, president of the Richmond County Bar Association, said he and colleagues are "well advised of the project because we walk by it everyday. What was a vacant lot is now a substantial structure."
He too shrugged off the pushed-back opening.
"As with any construction project, there are going to be certain delays maybe not anticipated from the get-go," he said.
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