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Costs rising for District Court project

August 06, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

The project to build a new Washington County District Court building is $200,000 to $220,000 over budget, a city official said Tuesday.

Deborah Everhart, the city's economic development coordinator, said state officials are trying to find a way to cut costs.

Everhart said she didn't know the budget for the project, but state officials have said it was to cost just under $6 million.

Maryland Department of General Services officials don't want to ask the Maryland General Assembly for more money since they pushed to have the project funded in one year rather than two, Everhart told the mayor and City Council during Tuesday's work session.

The two-story, 27,000-square-foot building will be constructed at 36 W. Antietam St.

Demolition of the former Brandt Cabinet warehouse at that site is expected to begin next May or June, with construction of the new courthouse to begin immediately afterward, Everhart said.

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Councilman William M. Breichner said the new courthouse was "a terrible-looking building" after he saw a model of it on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said she thought the building was "lovely."

The building will have two courtrooms on the second floor with 13.5-foot-high ceilings, Everhart said. There would be room to expand onto the back of the building to add a third courtroom on the second floor with parking underneath, she said.

People charged with crimes will be escorted to the courtrooms on a separate elevator from the one used by the public, Everhart said.

Limited parking will be available behind the courthouse for judges and courthouse staff, so the city can expect many courthouse employees to continue using the North Potomac Street parking deck, she said.

The new District Court building will replace the one at 33 W. Washington St., which some court officials have said is too small and lacks the facilities of modern courthouses.

City officials will ask the state to select bricks for the building that are reddish so they will match other downtown buildings, Everhart said.

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