A new Civil & Family Courts Complex (CFCC) is currently in the planning stages to respond to the current and forecasted demands on the current justice system facilities. The project will provide safe, secure, sustainable and technologically responsive facilities.
In 2009, a Central Campus Needs Assessment was initiated by Travis County to understand what space would be required to house the staff and services needed to adequately serve residents from 2009, to 2035. The effort, completed in 2010, indicated a significant space deficiency then, and that space shortage would only be exacerbated by the projected County growth in upcoming years. Led by Austin firm Broaddus & Associates, the Needs Assessment findings included:
- Quality of work environment in many departments and offices did not enable optimal staff performance
- Lack of available and appropriately sized meeting spaces
- Inefficient departmental layouts
- Lack of natural lighting
- Insufficient security
- Inadequate storage capacity
- 50% more space needed to accommodate existing services
- 130% more space would be needed over the next twenty-five years in order to accommodate projected staff growth
A Visioning Session with County leadership, held in June 2009, yielded a set of Guiding Principles that provided a basis for project development. A series of intensive site visits and stakeholder interviews followed the introductory session and provided baseline information for both functional assessments and staffing projections.
Analyses of population growth, historical staffing growth, and historical caseload growth were completed. Throughout the Needs Assessment, regular meetings with the County Project Management team, the Steering Committee, various Sub-Committees and the Commissioners Court provided feedback and direction.
Needs Assessment Report included the following:
- Functional and Operational Assessment
- Strategic Growth Plan
- Space Assessment
- Space Standards
- Functional and Operational Assessment for Security Operations
Central Campus Master Plan
At the completion of the Needs Assessment, it was clear that the County would need to take deliberate steps to both increase and improve its Central Campus facilities over the next several years to accommodate County services.
The Central Campus Master Plan established a strategic plan for the facilities development required to accommodate the civil and criminal justice system and several general government functions through and beyond the 2035 planning horizon.
- A new Civil & Family Courts Complex
- Expansion of the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center
- Restoration, rehabilitation and re-occupancy of Heman Marion Sweatt Historic Courthouse
- A new Central Booking & 72-hour Housing Facility
- Office Building(s) for both Court & General Government Functions
An abbreviated timeline of events stemming from the completion of the Needs Assessment and Master Planning Process follows:
- Needs Assessment completed
- Adoption of Space Program by Commissioners Court
- Site purchased for the new Civil & Family Courts Complex
- Adoption of a Space Program for the Civil and Family Courts building by Commissioners Court
- Central Campus Master Plan completed
- Feasibility analysis of delivery options and Value-for-Money analysis for a Travis County Civil and Family Courts building completed
- February - Travis County issued solicitation for a Program Manager/Owner’s Representative.
- March - AECOM, formally URS Corporation, was selected after an extensive interview process by both the staff interview committee and the Commissioners Court
- November – Court approved Design-Build as preferred method and AECOM’s full contract went into effect
- January - Commissioners Court unanimously approved the creation of a Community Focus Committee (CFC), the orientation of the proposed new Civil & Family Courts Complex with respect to Republic Park, and set goal to have a bond referendum on the May 2015 ballot.
- March – HOK approved as the Independent Representative/Compliance Architect (IR/CA)
- July - Design Concept Charrettes conducted with all stakeholder groups scheduled to be located within the new facility, user groups, such as the Austin Bar Association and the CFC.
- August – Feedback from Design Concept Charrettes incorporated to create a single, consolidated concept.
- October – The consolidated concept was presented to the Commissioner Court.
- January – Commissioners Court votes unanimously to move referendum date to November
- November – Bond Referendum was held but it did not pass
- January – Commissioners Court votes to have County Staff and AECOM conduct an evaluation of potential project sites and options for developing an alternative solution for improved Civil & Family Courts capacity and to establish a new Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).
- February – County Staff and AECOM develop preliminary Site Criteria Analysis Matrix tool; Commissioners Court votes to approve it for use, pending comments from the CAC, in the site analysis; gives direction to begin evaluation of five (5) county owned properties: 300 Guadalupe St., Block 126 (USB building), Block 134 (Granger building & garage), Block 100 & 81 (700 Lavaca building & garage) and Block 107 (San Antonio garage).
- March – CAC meetings initiated.