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County Council approves circuit court project; Executive Kittleman says county needs new facility

July 27, 2018

Media Contact: 
Deidre McCabe, Director of Strategic Planning and Communications, 410-313-4023
Holger Serrano, Assistant to the Director, Department of Public Works, 410-313-0707 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today applauded the County Council for supporting the public-private partnership to build a new Circuit Courthouse, approving the project by a 4 to 1 vote.

“This project has been talked about for more than 20 years and is long overdue,” Kittleman said. “We cannot adequately provide for the county’s judicial needs with the current facility and are looking forward to moving ahead with this exciting project.” 

Circuit Court Administrative Judge Lenore R. Gelfman echoed the County Executive’s sentiments, saying: “We are very pleased the Council voted to approve this project. The existing courthouse is 175 years old -- safety, security and access to justice are paramount, all of which will be greatly improved in the new courthouse.” 

Gelfman said that over the years, many essential departments and offices have been moved out of the current Circuit Courthouse in historic Ellicott City due to lack of space, including the state’s attorney’s office, land records, victims’ services and part of the sheriff’s office.

“Moving these offices back into the new courthouse will greatly increase efficiency and the management of cases,” she said. “I want to thank the County Executive for his vision and unwavering support for this very important project.”

"The courthouse is an essential element of our government, and it has been languishing for decades. A replacement has been deferred for decades, so the Council and County have spent  the past two years moving this critical project forward,” said County Council Member Jon Weinstein, whose district includes the current courthouse. “Relocating the courthouse also creates an exciting opportunity for the existing, historic building to be an integral part of Historic Ellicott City's future, particularly in the aftermath of the recent flood."

Last month, Kittleman announced that Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners had been selected as the preferred bidder to lead the design, construction, partial financing, facility operation and maintenance of the new Circuit Courthouse. The new facility will be built on the site of the current Thomas Dorsey Building on Bendix Road, with demolition of that building scheduled to begin in June 2019. Construction of the new courthouse is expected to begin in August 2019 and be completed in the summer of 2021.

The plan submitted by Edgemoor-Star America includes a 237,000-square-foot courthouse that improves safety, security and technology. The design features a four-story atrium, a large entryway providing safety screening for those entering the courthouse and separate hallways and elevators for prisoners. The plan includes office space and a courtroom for a sixth judge, a larger and more comfortable jury assembly area, and a 691-space adjacent parking garage.

The procurement process started in July 2017 and nine Expressions of Interest were received in September 2017. Of those, three were selected to receive a Request for Proposal in November 2017. Technical and financial proposals from the three companies were received in May 2018.

Kittleman said Edgemoor Star-America’s design was the best value for the county and will provide “an architectural landmark that expresses the values and traditions of Howard County’s justice system.”

The selected company will finance the full cost of the construction and be responsible for design, construction and a 30-year contract for operating and maintaining the building.  At the end of the 30-year contract, the courthouse will be returned 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 ready for occupancy. The County will also provide an annual service payment of approximately $10 million beginning in Fiscal Year 2022, with annual adjustments for inflation thereafter.

For preliminary renderings and a conceptual computer animation of the Edgemoor Star-America proposal and additional information on the Howard County Circuit Courthouse Project, visit