Courthouses and other municipal buildings are being renovated and upgraded throughout the U.S. That’s because funding for them continues to be available, and that is good news. But even better is the fact that many upcoming projects carry projected costs representing hundreds of millions in contracting opportunities.

While the federal government supports local municipal and courthouse projects, it also updates and renovates many courthouses in numerous states. Federal construction spending totaled about $34 billion in 2023, including allocations for projects at several levels of government. The projects that follow have been funded, but they are all in the very early stages of implementation. This early stage provides a prime opportunity for interested parties to begin positioning themselves for success.

The California Superior Court will be replaced in Fresno at a cost of $749 million. This historic facility has been in service since 1966 but can no longer meet compliance standards, especially the newer building regulations, including seismic codes and space standards. A new courthouse will resolve these problems and save the county over $40 million in maintenance costs.

The project will consolidate two other existing buildings – a smaller courthouse on M Street and the North Annex Jail. Fresno County officials need approximately 2 acres where the 400,000-square-foot courthouse can be built. This new facility will be designed for 36 courtrooms and space for future needs. The effort is not moving quickly because of the size of the initiative, and construction will likely launch in 2026.

 Projects to build, renovate courthouses, municipal buildings take center stage again

The California Superior Court in Fresno
Photo courtesy of

Officials in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, will oversee a project to replace an aging public safety building with a new courthouse complex. The project will call for demolishing a 95-year-old safety building and constructing a 10-story, 374,000-square-foot justice center in its current location. The renovation of a historic courthouse will also be incorporated, and the project will cost approximately $490 million. The new justice center will house criminal, preliminary, custody intake and outtake courtrooms. It will be designed to separate inmates, witnesses, jurors and staff. Public wayfinding and emergency path visibility will be improved. New and upgraded technology, including video teleconferencing and digital recording devices, will be installed. The renovation will include restructuring an older restraining clinic and constructing two new civil and family courtrooms.

The project recently entered the formal design and planning stage. Solicitation documents are expected in early 2026, and construction will launch shortly after that.

The federal General Services Administration will oversee a $334 million project to construct a federal courthouse in Hartford, Connecticut. Once completed, it will serve as headquarters for the U.S. District Court of Connecticut. The old courthouse is no longer adequate. The new 211,000-square-foot facility will be equipped with 11 courtrooms, 18 judge chambers, offices for various agencies and 60 secured parking spaces.

The project’s design phase began in April of this year, and an environmental review will be completed this summer. Construction is planned to launch in 2027.

Commissioners in Henderson County, North Carolina, approved a new courthouse and detention center project that carries a cost estimate of $158.3 million. It will include significant renovations to the existing courthouse and the expansion of two new additions. The renovations and additions will provide much-needed additional space in the courthouse. The new facility will be a 99,000-square-foot, three-story structure, and the attached detention center will have a two-level housing area and a support area for administration, magistrate, staff, intake, food preparation, medical and laundry services.

The project is currently in the design phase, which is expected to continue for another year. Construction will begin in 2025 and be completed in phases. The detention center will fall into the first phase.

City leaders in Eastvale, California, will oversee construction of a city hall as part of a larger effort to establish a downtown campus for the first time. Established in 2010, the city has seen rapid growth in the past 10 years, and the need for a downtown area and city hall has grown. Currently, the city hall resides in a former retail building and does not have enough space for employees and visitors.

This downtown development initiative began in March 2023, and 6 acres have been set aside for city use. The new civic center will be built on that land. The 50,000-square-foot space will include the new city hall, a library, a police station and general-use areas for citizens.

A master developer will be hired this year to assist the city with planning and developing a finalized timeline for construction. The bid for construction is expected in early 2025. The city’s general fund has contributed funding in previous fiscal years and is expected to allocate additional funding in the years ahead as the project moves forward. At least $104 million has been set aside for the project to date, but the final project cost could reach up to $200 million.

City leaders in Mercer Island, Washington, closed the city hall building due to asbestos contamination, and municipal operations were relocated to temporary facilities. Now, a new building will house the Public Works Department and the Information Technology and Geographic Information Systems Department. A new facility will be constructed on the current city hall campus that will also provide space for the police department and the Emergency Operations Center. The building will replace the current public works building.

The new building will need to provide space for the four co-located departments. This will include overnight spaces for public works staff, space for over 100 pieces of public works equipment and space for police operations. In their current facilities, the departments occupy about 40,000 square feet of building space, 20,000 square feet of covered equipment storage and about 150,000 square feet of semi-covered operations space. The cost of the new building is still being determined in preliminary design work, which is currently underway. The option of abating the asbestos has been tagged with an estimated cost of about $10 million.

It would be difficult to point to any time in history when more collaborative opportunities were supported by funding for all parties.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.