Elkhart County’s New Consolidated Courts Campus, $94M

Elkhart County’s New Consolidated Courts Campus, $94M

Construction is underway on the new $94 million consolidated campus for Elkhart County’s court system. County officials have said this major project was more than 30 years in the making and is designed to streamline court services for every Elkhart citizen into one convenient, upgraded location.

The new campus is being built on a 32-acre site that sits near the western edge of Goshen, southwest of the intersection at U.S. 33 and Reliance Road. The design-build construction contract describes a 173,000-square-foot building to be situated facing due northwest on the site. The building itself will be four stories tall with 13 individual courtrooms. Work began in late 2021 with a groundbreaking ceremony and is targeted for completion in June 2024.

“We’re further modernizing how we work on behalf of the citizens who live here. When this complex opens in 2024, I believe it will be one of the most efficient and accessible County Court systems in the country. And that’s good news for everyone who lives and works here,” said Frank Lucchese, Elkhart County Commissioner.

 

Purposeful Planning

The roots of this project go back all the way to 1992 and has been discussed as a necessary improvement over all that time. To form the best possible plan for the new facility, input was gathered from a wide array of groups including government leaders, Elkhart County judges, magistrates, the prosecutor and Sheriff’s offices, County Commissioners, and others. The result of all this work helped form a concept for a very forward-thinking court campus that will serve Elkhart County for decades.

For example, emerging court technology was a major consideration for the new campus. Throughout the course of the pandemic, court proceedings experienced disruptions throughout the country. Elkhart officials agreed these virtual court sessions would be important moving forward. Their philosophy was that routine court appearances such as traffic violations shouldn’t require citizens to travel and take time off work anymore. Building virtual technology into the new facility will improve efficiency and access for all citizens in the county.

Officials were also in agreement that the new campus should be attractive and not a “utilitarian box” on what was otherwise highly visible land. Thus, the design process focused on accentuating the dignity and respect that court proceedings deserve. The building was also designed with long-term attractiveness in mind.

Other key factors that went into the new campus’s planning were accessibility, efficiency, and capacity for future growth. Elkhart County’s population has been growing for decades, so the ability to expand was critical. And the consolidation of all court services into a single location eliminates many of the barriers that citizens encounter as they utilize these services.

 

Strict Material Controls

One of the unique aspects of the Elkhart Consolidated Courts project is that much of the initial work transpired during a time of great volatility in construction material pricing (late 2021 through early 2022). Supplies of things like steel, lumber, concrete, and more was disrupted too, which further contributed to significant price shifts.

To stay ahead of these issues, Elkhart County established strict cost-saving agreements with contractors that minimized the escalating raw material expenses. This was done to prohibit the project from exceeding budget.

Contractual agreements provided for “open book pricing,” which in other words is the ability of local government to see actual expenses as they’re incurred with a guaranteed minimum price for those raw materials. The agreements are expected to save money during construction as the design-build team is paid a set fee, regardless of how much the materials cost.

 

Next Chapter of Elkhart Courts

In just a little less than a year, the court system of Elkhart County is going to be operating out of a much more efficient and modern campus. The new location will bring a lot of added benefits and amenities to the county and its residents. Although it’s been many decades of thought and planning, the new facility will serve the community well into the long term as the needs of Elkhart County grow with the coming years.

 


Elkhart County Consolidated Court Campus Project

  • Owner: Elkhart County Courts
  • Total cost: $94 million
  • Scale: 173,000 square feet
  • Start date: November 2021
  • Targeted completion date: June 2024

Construction Partners

Source: Elkhart County