NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County will ask all four architecture firms that applied to submit formal bids for a new criminal courthouse in Land O’ Lakes, but whether the project goes to construction in 2014 will be based largely on how well the architects can control the project’s costs.
After reviewing each firm’s credentials, a selection committee comprised of county and court officials agreed to invite each firm to present a detail vision, design concept and construction timeline for the $28 million project. The bids will be due in early January, and each firm will have an hour to present to the committee later that month.
“Obviously to me, four is a manageable number, so I would have no problem hearing from all four,” Commission Chairman Ted Schrader said.
But Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe questioned if the decision meant Schrader had agreed to let the project go forward. County commissioners postponsed the bid selection earlier this year over concerns about how the county would pay the yearly operations and maintenance costs for a third courthouse.
“What does this mean in reference to the project itself?” McCabe asked. “If we’re moving down this road, does it mean we’re going to build the courthouse?”
Schrader and County Administrator Michele Baker wouldn’t commit. They said even if the project comes in on budget, the county would have to find between $700,000 and $1 million each year to staff and operate the building.
“We’re going to have to figure out where those funds are going to come from,” Baker said. “I would say we’re not on fast-forward yet.”
Each architecture firm paired up with a construction company for the project.
Charles Perry Partners’ John Carlson pitched its recent work on a similar project. “The Alachua County Criminal Courthouse speaks volumes for the capabilities of this team delivering an award winning criminal courthouse project.”
Mike Mozza, senior vice president of Moss/HOK, said his firm has dealt with similar budget constraints when designing a courthouse for Marion County and presented “a variety of structural options” that helped the county save $1 million in construction costs.
Lend Lease Construction & HDR Architecture have worked on more than 100 courthouse projects nationally, but business development manager Kevin Glenn said the team’s biggest advantage is their local ties. The firm has extensive experience in Pasco County. “We care about what goes on in the county — we live here,” he said.
Joseph J. Kokolakis, who teamed up with KBJ architects, said his construction firm would “only utilize local trades that share our commitment to the delivery of safe, high-quality facilities on Ɵtime and on budget.”