An enthusiastic crowd gathered Monday, July 8 for a ground breaking ceremony for a new U.S. Courthouse to be built at the Airport Business Park in McKinleyville.
The 22,853-square-foot federal courthouse, which should be completed in about 18 months, will have space for one courtroom and office space for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Probation Department and U.S. Magistrate Court. Construction is scheduled to begin in September, with the project completed in fall of 2014, according to the developers.
The single-story building will be located at the south end of Boeing Avenue with U.S. Highway 101 and Lily Road just to the west. The business park includes views of the ocean to the west and forested hillsides to the east. The beauty of the location wasn’t lost upon the officials who attended Monday’s ceremony.
Judge Charles Breyer, Senior United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, said he is the luckiest judge within his district. “This is a commanding view of nature,” Breyer said during the ceremony.
A courthouse, Breyer said, has enormous symbolism for a community. It’s a place where people go to discuss issues and, hopefully, resolve their differences. He noted that this was a special place.
Other speakers explained why the U.S. Courthouse needs to move to the new facility from its current location at Fifth and H streets in Eureka.
Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas said that the old courthouse isn’t earthquake resistant, nor does it comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The building, he said, contains lead paint and asbestos. Being that the structure is more than 100 years old, it would be cost prohibitive to retrofit the building, he said.
Instead, the Government Services Agency will lease the new courthouse for $1 million a year, which comes to about $27 per square foot. The lease is good for 20 years.
“The federal government is honored to be able to occupy this land for 20 years, hopefully more,” said Judge Breyer.
The Airport Business Park is owned by local developer Steve Moser. Following strict federal standards set by the GSA, C&SD Construction Inc. will build the new courthouse.
“This is clearly a significant project for the community,” said C&SD Construction President Steve Doctor.
“It’s a big deal and we’re proud to be part of it,” Doctor said.
When the courthouse is opened and the various office are fully staffed, about 29 people will work out of the building.