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HomeBusiness & CommunityHernando Courthouse renovations in full swing

Hernando Courthouse renovations in full swing

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After a long planning period that saw construction prices soar, the Hernando County Commission accepted a proposal last year to provide a $21 million dollar renovation to the Hernando County Courthouse. The construction bid, which was awarded to Tampa-based Manhattan Construction in June 2022, provided for new courtrooms, and improvements in security, technology, and accessibility. Initial work began on the project in October 2022.
On Thursday of last week, Hernando County Construction Projects Coordinator Erik van de Boogaard took a small group of media and county employees through the courthouse for a construction update. “Demolition, which is the initial phase of the project, has mostly been completed. But demos are always full of surprises,” Van de Boogaard said. Fortunately, the surprises in this project haven’t been big ones. Some minor additional work has been needed to relocate buried electrical lines, etc. “The additional work has not resulted in any cost overruns, as a contingency fund was already built into the project cost,” Van de Boogaard said.

New construction has begun in the existing space to add four new courtrooms on the first and second floors. “The current seven courtrooms are not enough to handle all the cases coming through. This has been a growing concern for the past ten years,” van de Boogaard said of the addition.
From a security standpoint, some important issues will be addressed. The project will provide Judges with a private elevator and secure corridors to get from their parking area to their offices and courtrooms. Judges currently must share an elevator and hallways with defendants, some of whom are current jail inmates. Renovations also include some new space for the latest technology. A campus-wide security, access control project, and automation project are also included. The security and access control project includes security cameras, card readers, door control devices like electric strikes, and the automation system to support this equipment. These upgrades will occur in all of the building wings: Historic Courthouse, Administrative and Judicial, and on most floors.

Another big improvement underway is the creation of accessible parking and a new main courthouse entry and lobby, which will accommodate disabled persons. Previously, persons desiring to enter the courthouse had to walk uphill from an adjacent parking lot and then negotiate several sets of stairs to access the main entrance. By moving the eastern entrance from the elevated first floor to the ground level, this issue will be eliminated. A new exterior canopy will cover the walkway leading up to the entrance of the lobby, adding 1356 feet of covered space. Additionally, an area adjacent to the new entrance will be leveled and paved for handicap-accessible parking. The new main lobby will provide improved security checkpoints and will be wide enough to accommodate more visitors.

Overall, the renovations will improve over 20,000 square feet of space. The estimated project completion date is Spring 2024. Construction officials are optimistic that the completion window will be met as worldwide supply chain issues are beginning to ease.

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