After decades of delays and missteps the new courthouse receives the finishing touches as it prepares to open for business.
The new $19.6 million 40,000-square-foot three-floor facility will have three courtrooms, with room for future expansion to six, an office for the district attorney, a sheriff's department security office, court business office, a data center in the basement and a drop-in child care facility for visitors.
The courthouse will serve people being adjudicated for misdemeanors, violations, small claims, landlord and tenant actions, ex parte hearings and document filing for all civil and domestic relations actions - many of which were previously filed at the overcrowded downtown Portland courthouse. The new courthouse is only for civil matters. It will not include a detention facility, nor will felony cases be heard.
Funding for the new courthouse includes $15 million from Recovery Zone Economic Development (stimulus) Bonds. The remaining portion will be funded from the 2008 sale of the South Edgefield property.
Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel's office says, "The building will open this spring after at few weather-dependent projects are completed," according to Sean Files, Commissioner McKeel's assistant.
The state ordered the county during the 1960's to have a courthouse in East Multnomah county. This new courthouse will replace the overcrowded run down one-courtroom in the old City Hall building on West Powell in downtown Gresham. In 2008 an estimated 27,000 defendants went through the old courthouse.
Just over a year ago, on Jan 7, 2011 construction began on the 4.2 area site located at 185th & SE Stark St., formerly the sites of KFC, Rockwood Lanes Bowling and an old laundromat. All were deconstructed in the Fall 2010 to make way for this project.
On July 27th, Howard S Wright Co., the general contractor for the project and local dignitaries hosted a "Topping Off Event" to recognize the completion of the structural steel construction for the new facility. After the fanfare the final signed beam was lifted into place on top the south wall of the southwest stairwell.
The state-of-the-art building will meet LEED Gold Certification standards and the Architecture 2030 Challenge, requiring the use of green and energy reduction technology such as solar, eco roofs and geothermal ground source heating. The new building will use 50% of the energy of a similar type building, and it will be 60% carbon neutral. It will use smart building system controls for lighting, ventilation and access. It will also have a 'green' roof, solar power, a radiant floor slab, on-site stormwater management, rain water re-use and low irrigation need vegetation.
Neighbors in the area have mixed views about the new Rockwood courthouse. They're hoping to see more police presence, new businesses and an easy-to-find justice facility. They believe the new courthouse could change the Rockwood neighborhood for the good, after years of high crime and broken promises.
This courthouse fills a great need for the growing population of residents East of 122nd Avenue, and it complements the other important projects in the Rockwood / West Gresham area. Projects like the City of Gresham's 'Rockwood in Motion' urban renewal improvements in the Rockwood Town Center, Human Solutions' Rockwood Building at 181st & Burnside, and the recently announced new Gresham Police station (to be completed by the end of 2013) on the 2.3 acre site formerly occupied by Kasch's Garden Center, 181st north of Glisan.