By Becky Gillette
Construction is expected to begin this summer on a new, $40.1 million federal courthouse in downtown Greenville that is expected to provide a major economic stimulus both during construction and through its years of usage.
“The new federal courthouse in our downtown is a legacy project that will change the face of Greenville for decades,” says Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons. “This courthouse shows how local and federal partnerships matter in maximizing federal investments in supporting the economic vision of local communities across the country. It has and will continue to serve as economic catalyst to spur local and private investments in our downtown and Greenville entirely.”
Simmons says the new courthouse project shows how local and federal partnerships matter in maximizing federal investments in supporting the economic vision of local communities across the country.
Groundbreaking for the 55,000-square-foot project is expected this summer with the date and time yet to be determined.
Federal support for the project came from the late Sen. Thad Cochran, Sen. Roger Wicker, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Rep. Bennie Thompson and the federal judiciary.
“On behalf of the entire United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, let me just say that we are absolutely thrilled with the design of our new Courthouse so far, and we are so excited about what this building will mean for Greenville and the surrounding areas,” says Chief Judge Sharion Aycock. “So much hard work has gone into this project, and there is a lot more to be done, but this building promises to be a beautiful new landmark building and a real asset to the community.”
District Judge Debra Brown says the unique and functional design of the courthouse will generate national attention in multiple fields.
“The new courthouse will both mark and define the next era in Greenville’s history and the evolution of Mississippi’s federal court presence,” Brown says.
An investment of this magnitude speaks volumes about the viability of the area, says Washington County Board of Supervisors President Carl McGee.
“Other potential investors know that Washington County is a place where you can make a viable and profitable investment,” McGee says. “Having the federal government interested in us enough to make a major investment in downtown Greenville can only enhance property values. It will also bring in other essential businesses to go along with that investment, not just doing construction, but as we go forward for years to come.”
One advantage of a new federal courthouse is enhanced safety and security, no problems with handicapped access as can sometimes be the case with historic courthouses, energy efficiency and a modern information technology infrastructure.
“From the safety, security and operational standpoint, it is best to have a new facility,” says McGee. “This represents brand new, state-of-the-art technology and architecture that will be appreciated for many, many years going forward.”
According to information from the General Services Administration (GSA), funding for the new courthouse was approved by Congress in late 2016. That covered site acquisition, design, construction, and related expenses. The architect for the project is Duvall Decker Architects, with co-lead designers Roy Decker, Duvall Decker and Steve Dumez with Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.
APSI Construction Management was hired as construction manager in June 2018 and Critz Campbell received an Art in Architecture award in April. Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.
Major projects like this are considered important not only to the court systems, but to the economies of the areas where they will be located.
“This investment will serve as a catalyst for economic development in the local community, while addressing the space constraints and security challenges in the current facilities,” says GSA Administrator Emily Murphy. “The forward-thinking design is compatible with the character of the historic downtown area while meeting the current and future needs of the Northern District of Mississippi’s Fifth Circuit.”
The new federal courthouse is being constructed on a 2.5-acre site in the city’s original central business district near the east bank of the Mississippi River, says GSA Acting Regional Administrator Giancarlo Brizzi.
“The facility will have two courtrooms and three judicial chambers, and will support the Judiciary in providing fair and impartial justice and serve as a source of community pride in the City of Greenville,” says Brizzi.
Tenant agencies will include the U.S. District Court, U.S. Clerk of the Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, U.S. Magistrate Court, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation, Federal Public Defender and U.S. Attorneys.
Updates on the project can be found at www.gsa.gov/about-us/regions/welcome-to-the-greater-southwest-region-7/buildings-and-facilities/greenville-us-courthouse.