Howard County Circuit Courthouse

Public-Private Partnership (P3) Project

Howard County Circuit Courthouse

Community Outreach Meeting report available

Read the report

View the presentation boards from the meeting


Courthouse Project

In June 2018, Howard County selected Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners to lead the design, construction, partial financing, and facility operation and maintenance of a new Circuit Courthouse on the site of the current Thomas Dorsey Building on Bendix Road.  The new facility will resolve deficiencies in the existing Courthouse, which was built 175 years ago.

The plan submitted by Edgemoor-Star America includes a 237,000 square foot courthouse that enhances safety and security.  The design features a four-story atrium, a large entryway that will provide safety screening for those entering the Courthouse and separate hallways and elevators for prisoners to enhance public safety. The plan also includes office space and a courtroom for a sixth judge, a larger and more comfortable jury assembly area, and a 691-space parking garage adjacent to the Courthouse.  The new Circuit Courthouse will be durable with high-quality systems to ensure its useful life extends well beyond the 30-year contract. 

The selection of Edgemoor-Star America was the latest step in a procurement process that started in July 2017.  Nine Expressions of Interest were received from project companies in September 2017.  Three of those companies were short-listed and received the County’s formal Request for Proposal in November 2017.  Technical and financial proposals from the three companies were received in May 2018. 

Edgemoor-Star America is required to use minority and veteran-owned businesses for construction, operations, maintenance and supplies.  The project requires a minimum 15 percent subcontracting goal.

The selected project company will finance the full cost of the construction and be responsible for design, construction and 30-year operating and maintenance of the building.  At the end of the 30-year contract the selected project company will return the courthouse to the County in a well-maintained condition. The County will provide $75 million financed by General Obligation bonds to the project company when the new courthouse is occupancy ready. The County will also provide an annual service payment of approximately $10 million beginning in Fiscal Year 2022, with annual adjustments for inflation thereafter.

Demolition of the Thomas Dorsey Building is scheduled for June-July 2019, with construction of the new Circuit Courthouse beginning in August 2019.  The Courthouse is expected to be ready for occupancy in summer 2021.

Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners included the following firms as its partners in the project:

  • Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate, LLC
  • Star America Fund GP LLC
  • Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, Inc.
  • Clark Construction Group, LLC
  • Johnson Controls, Inc.
  • Project Finance Advisory Ltd.
  • Bracewell LLP
  • Mazars Global Infrastructure (US) LLC
  • Willis Towers Watson
  • Thompson Coburn LLP
  • Allen & Shariff Engineering  (Based in Columbia, Maryland)
  • Harkins Builders, Inc.  (Based in Columbia, Maryland)
  • Site Resources, Inc.
  • Cagley & Associates, Inc.
  • WileyIWilson
  • Cerami & Associates, Inc.
  • Arup USA, Inc.
  • Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc.
  • Van Deusen & Associates, Inc.
  • Schnabel Engineering DC, Inc.
  • Kirlin Design Build
  • Rosendin Electric, Inc.
  • S2N Technology Group

This innovative public-private partnership approach, unanimously recommended by the County’s Spending Affordability Advisory Committee and endorsed by the County Council in CR27-2017, is expected to provide an efficient and effective way to deliver a modern facility at the best value. The County is expected to benefit from its ability to share risks, utilize innovative solutions and technology, and secure life-cycle investments and quality maintenance.

Preliminary renderings, a conceptual computer animation of the Edgemoor Star-America proposal and complete information on the Howard County Circuit Courthouse Project, can be found on this page.


P3 Courthouse Legislative Documents


  1. Legislation requesting approval of a multi-year Project Agreement for the Design, Construction, Financing, Operation and Maintenance of the Howard County Circuit Courthouse between Howard County and a special purpose entity formed by Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners for the design, construction, partial financing, operation and maintenance of a new Courthouse and related Parking Structure. To view the bill click here.
  2. Project Agreement
  3. Appendix to the Agreement








Project Timeline

  • Issue RFP and Draft Project Agreement:  December 2017
  • Interim Submittals Due:  February 2018
  • Final Technical/Price Submittals Due:  May 2018
  • Selection of Preferred Proposer:  August 2018
  • Commercial and Financial Close:  November 2018 
  • Design/Build Phase Commences:  December 2018
  • Construction Finalized:  June 2021

Authorizing documents


Site studies


P3 Courthouse Project documents


EOI documents

  1. HCCH Final Space Program
  2. Dorsey Site Drawing
  3. Howard County Circuit Courthouse Master Plan
  4. Dorsey Building Original Plans

Drone video

Approach to the Courthouse property, heading northbound on US 29 to the exit to go eastbound on MD 108.

Approach to the Courthouse property, heading eastbound on MD 108 to the intersection with Bendix Road.


Approach to the Courthouse property heading north on Bendix Road.


The P3 Courthouse site. Approximately 14 of 27 county-owned acres will be made available for the project.




Frequently Asked Questions

About the Project

1. Why does Howard County need a new circuit courthouse?

The current Circuit Courthouse is 175 years old. Since 1983, the County’s population grew by more than 142%.  Since just 2005, caseload grew significantly (10% for non-domestic cases, 20% for civil domestic cases and 50% for reopened cases). The current courthouse is overcrowded and it lacks adequate security. Expansion and renovation would not be cost effective. Moreover, prisoners, judges, court staff, the public, and opposing parties in highly contentious matters such as child custody, peace orders, and restraining orders are currently required to share hallways and other common areas. The current courthouse is not well suited for technology improvements. A new, larger Circuit Courthouse will provide a secure facility with technology improvements to meet current and future judicial requirements.

2. How much will the new circuit courthouse project cost Howard County Government?

Howard County Government will pay the project company $75 million when the new Circuit Courthouse is ready for occupancy. Howard County Government also will pay for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) estimated at $3 million. The $75 million, FF&E and issuance costs will be financed by General Obligation (GO) bonds. The County is expecting to pay an estimated $4.9 million annual GO bond debt service payment for 30 years. The County will also pay the project company an estimated annual service fee of approximately $10.1 million. The service fee payment will cover facilities operations and maintenance and repayment of privately financed capital costs for 30 years. Payments will begin in Fiscal Year 2022. The facility management portion of the service fee will be adjusted for inflation annually.

3. Where will the new Circuit Courthouse be located?

The new Courthouse will be on a Howard County Government owned site located at 9250 Judicial Way, Ellicott City, MD, 21043.  The new Howard County Circuit Courthouse site will provide easier access to judicial services due to its close location to Route 29 and Route 108.

4. What does the new site allow that the old site does not?

The new site has 29.77 acres. It accommodates a larger Circuit Courthouse and a parking garage. The planned project includes a 237,000 square feet Courthouse, a parking garage with 691 spaces, and site improvements. Moreover, the new courthouse will efficiently and conveniently house the Howard County Circuit Court, Orphan’s Court, the County’s Sheriff Office, the State’s Attorney, Register of Wills, Clerk of the Court and Land Records, and Family Law. Space also will be provided for the Public Defender, the Department of Social Services, the Bar Association and the Law Library. The site will support future expansion of the new Circuit Courthouse and the parking garage as the population and judicial caseload increase in the coming decades. The site allows for two additional buildings, as needed. These buildings are not part of the current project.

5. How will the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse affect access and local traffic?

During construction, the project company will provide necessary signage and guide traffic to minimize the impact on the surrounding community. In addition, restrictions will be placed on utilizing certain neighborhood streets for construction and through traffic. Local traffic at the site will be restricted from cutting through adjacent neighborhoods. Signage, striping, and curbing will be installed to eliminate right turns from the new Circuit Courthouse site onto Edgar Road and to restrict left turns from Edgar Road onto the new site.

6. When will the Courthouse be ready for occupancy?

The new courthouse is scheduled to be ready for occupancy by July 1, 2021.

7. Does Howard County Government have plans for repurposing the current Howard County Circuit Courthouse?

The current courthouse building can be redeveloped for mixed uses that may include commercial, employment, and residential land uses. Howard County Government intends to explore various opportunities for economic development of the current courthouse after the Howard County Council approves the multi-year contract for the new courthouse.

8. Has sustainability been a focus and is the County targeting a LEED rating for the Project?

Yes, the County has included a requirement that the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse achieve LEED Silver Certification. If LEED Silver Certification is not achieved, the project company will be responsible for making a payment of $2 million to the County.

About Public-Private Partnerships (P3)

1. What is a public-private partnership (P3)?

A P3 is an innovative way to contract for the delivery of public infrastructure and related services. The P3 contract is between a public agency, in this case Howard County Government, and a private partner (referred to as the project company). A competitively awarded contract transfers significant risks to the project company. When properly structured (as is the case for the Howard County Circuit Courthouse Project), the project company is required to maximize the life of the facilities and hand assets back to the public agency in excellent condition. 

2. What P3 delivery model is Howard County Government using for the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse project?

In January 2017, the County determined a P3 project with partial public and partial private financing was the best approach to design, construct, and operate and maintain the new courthouse and parking structure. 

3. What are Howard County Government’s responsibilities?

The County will retain ownership of the Circuit Courthouse, parking garage and land. The County will administer the contract and evaluate the project company’s performance. It will pay for utilities separately. Utilities services are not part of the P3 contract. Judicial and County responsibilities will remain under the authority of the respective public agency.

4. What are responsibilities of the private partner (i.e., the project company)?

The project company will design, build, partially finance, and maintain the new Circuit Courthouse for 30 years. The multi-year contract (i.e., Project Agreement) provides for certain performance guarantees. The project company must design and build the new Circuit Courthouse and parking structure to specified technical requirements and on time. If the project company is late it will suffer financial consequences. Furthermore, the project company will provide facilities management services such as facilities maintenance and repair, janitorial, landscaping, trash removal, and snow removal. If the project company does not operate and maintain the facilities as specified in the Project Agreement, the County will withhold money from the monthly Service Fee.

5. Is P3 the same as privatization?

No, the County will retain ownership of the new Circuit Courthouse, parking garage and land. At the end of contract, Howard County Government will operate and maintain facilities.

6. Have P3s been used for similar projects?

Yes, P3s have been used to deliver other similar projects such as the Long Beach Courthouse in California and justice facilities in Australia, Canada, and Europe.

7. Is there a precedent for P3 projects in Maryland?

In recent years, Maryland awarded three major transportation P3 contracts. In 2009, the Maryland Port Administration awarded a 50-year P3 contract for redevelopment and management of the Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore. In 2012, the Maryland Transportation Authority awarded a 35-year P3 contract to redesign, rebuild, and manage Maryland House and Chesapeake House travel plazas along I-95. In 2016, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration awarded a 30-year P3 contract to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Purple Line. The Purple Line is a light rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton. 

About the Procurement

1. Has the County selected a private partner?

The County has announced its preferred proposer, Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners.  

2. What process did Howard County Government use?

The County used a qualifications-based, two-step procurement process. It started in July 2017. The County received nine expressions of interest from prospective companies in September 2017. Three companies were short listed based on technical capability, P3 experience, and financial capacity. The three short-listed companies engaged with the County in a competitive process that culminated in the submission of technical and financial proposals in May 2018. The County evaluated proposals and selected the proposer based on “best value”. Best value considered the quality of the technical solutions proposed and the required service fee payment.

3. Can minority, women and veteran-owned and locally owned businesses participate in the contract?

Yes, the project company is hosting vendor outreach events locally to help them exceed the County’s Equal Business Opportunity 15% subcontracting goal. The preferred proposer has a plan to subcontract construction, operations, maintenance and supplies. The County and project company encourage minority, women, veteran-owned and local businesses to participate in the services for this project.

4. How many jobs will be created?

During design and construction hundreds of jobs will be created if the Howard County Council approves the multi-year contract. During facilities operation and maintenance several full-time jobs will be created on site. Subcontractors will also be hired to perform maintenance services.