More than $100M awarded for new SA federal courthouse

August 15, 2018
In The News

The U.S. General Services Administration on Wednesday awarded a $117.4 million design-and-build contract to Brasfield & Gorrie LLC that will move the construction of a new federal courthouse in San Antonio from the drawing board to dirt turning.

The move comes years after federal and local officials began their quest to replace the current facility, which dates back to the 1968 World’s Fair and sits next to key downtown real estate being transformed into a new live-work-play destination.

A bipartisan delegation of federal officials, including U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Joaquin Castro, Will Hurd, Lamar Smith and Lloyd Doggett, played key roles in securing funding for a new federal courthouse. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was also instrumental in getting the deal done.

The planned 230,536-square-foot structure will be built in downtown San Antonio at Santa Rosa Avenue and Nueva Street. The facility will house the U.S. District Courts for the Western District of Texas, U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. Clerk of the Court, U.S. Magistrate Courts, U.S. Marshals and U.S. attorneys, as well as U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, the federal public defender and GSA.

Under federal budget guidelines, funds for such a project must be authorized and appropriated by separate committees in the U.S. House and Senate before they can be disbursed. Cuellar initially secured the courthouse funds through the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which allocated $947 million for similar projects across the country.

“The Wood Courthouse has kept the Western District going for nearly 50 years, but unfortunately it does not have the capacity to support it any longer,” Cuellar said in a statement. “The project to build a new courthouse was deserving of emergency appropriations because of the building’s numerous problems.”

Several concerns have been raised about the current San Antonio facility, including the fact that, because of its layout, judges, jurors, prosecutors and visitors often pass defendants charged with violent crimes in corridors and conveyances around the building. The building also lacks a protected perimeter and has tested positive for high levels of lead and iron contamination in its water.

Construction on the new facility is expected to begin next spring.