The Circuit Court for Baltimore City is looking for a developer to help improve and expand its aging buildings.
The court, a state agency, asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to serve as its agent in finding a developer or development partner who could help it upgrade its facilities in Baltimore, including the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse and Courthouse East.
A 2011 study indicated it could cost $500 million to $600 million to renovate existing court buildings and construct a new criminal courts facility nearby. Money wasn’t available at that time, and the plan did not move ahead.
Baltimore’s courts have been the focus of national attention over the past year with the trials of police officers involved in the in-custody death of West Baltimore resident Freddie Gray. In April, a fire forced the Mitchell Courthouse to be closed for more than a week and court hearings to be rescheduled. Other problems have ranged from unreliable elevators to lack of separation between defendants and the general public.
Now the court wants to see if it can meet its long-term needs by working with a developer in a public-private partnership or some other arrangement, said Gary McGuigan, senior vice president for the stadium authority. “They want to uncover every stone in the city to see if there are opportunities to do it more cheaply,” he said.
The idea is not necessarily to follow the recommendations of the previous study, he said. “This is …talking to the marketplace to see if there are other ways to meet the goals of the court system.”
The stadium authority approved the court request at its meeting Tuesday, and it still must be reviewed by the budget committee of the state legislature. The search process is expected to take about six months and cost about $84,000, which the court has agreed to pay the stadium authority, McGuigan said.
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