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Cleveland: Justice Center Complex Replacement

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http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2015/09/cuyahoga_county_needs_new_downtown_courthouse_and_jail_officials_say.html#incart_river_home

 

Cuyahoga County needs new downtown courthouse and jail, officials say

 

"CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cuyahoga County officials have all but concluded that they must build a jail and courthouse in downtown Cleveland and then demolish the 40-year-old Justice Center between Lakeside and St. Clair avenues.

 

County Executive Armond Budish has yet to report what he wants to do with the Justice Center, but a representative of the Budish administration and County Council members say spending money on renovations seems foolish.

 

"The thing is falling apart," said council member Michael Gallagher. "I have not heard an argument that makes sense of putting money into the facility. It was built to last, designed to last, but didn't. It is poorly designed and has not lived up to what it was supposed to be.""

 

Shall we have a demo party?  :-P

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Finding a new site for this thing is going to be a nightmare.  I think their best bet would be to try to rebuild it on the same site.  Move everybody out of one building, then demolish and replace it, then repeat with the next.  The shuffling would be a nightmare for several years, of course, but probably not as bad as the public fights around trying to put it in the WHD or by CSU.

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It would be such a joy to see the atrocious Justice Center torn down. But I wonder where they would build the new courthouse and jail. I'm sure they like having the courts right across from the county courthouse building. I suppose they could build on one of the vast Warehouse District lots, but I'd prefer if they were instead developed with mixed uses. A jail is, by definition, going to be a terrible street presence, so it would be nice if they could build it somewhere more isolated. If the City can consolidate its Division of Printing into another building, perhaps the new jail and courthouse could go on Lakeside, next to the FBI building. I'm just brainstorming here.

 

And obviously, this raises the question: what could be done with the current Justice Center site? I would love to see that site properly developed.

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Cuyahoga County needs new downtown courthouse and jail, officials say

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cuyahoga County officials have all but concluded that they must build a jail and courthouse in downtown Cleveland and then demolish the 40-year-old Justice Center between Lakeside and St. Clair avenues.

 

County Executive Armond Budish has yet to report what he wants to do with the Justice Center, but a representative of the Budish administration and County Council members say spending money on renovations seems foolish.

 

"The thing is falling apart," said council member Michael Gallagher. "I have not heard an argument that makes sense of putting money into the facility. It was built to last, designed to last, but didn't. It is poorly designed and has not lived up to what it was supposed to be."

 

 

http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2015/09/cuyahoga_county_needs_new_downtown_courthouse_and_jail_officials_say.html#incart_river_home

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^Either on the Division of Printing site, or just south of their, somewhere between East 13th and 18th and Lakeside and St. Clair.  It would be "out of the way", and still have good access for all the lawyers clustered around East 9th/St. Clair area.

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^Either on the Division of Printing site, or just south of their, somewhere between East 13th and 18th and Lakeside and St. Clair.  It would be "out of the way", and still have good access for all the lawyers clustered around East 9th/St. Clair area.

 

That makes the most sense... by a mile, really... but I'm a lawyer who rides the Rapid, so I wouldn't mind keeping it near Tower City.  Maybe they could use a WHD parking lot and put jail portion on Frankfurt, as out of the way as possible.

 

Regardless, anything is better than the current Justice Center.  That building is just awful, top to bottom, inside and out.

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Worth remembering that for several decades before the Justice Center, the criminal courts were located on East 21st, between Payne and Superior. The idea the this stuff has to be in the heart of downtown is relatively recent.

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I say put it on Lakeside just west of Courthouse Square. Build a parking garage in The Pit where the old union station was. This will be accessible to the existing law offices, lots of lunch spots nearby, have lots of parking, and it's a short walk to the West 3rd Waterfront Line station. Besides, isn't this site on Lakeside county owned?


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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Could eminent domain be used to buy up a nearby parking lot for development (new court and jail) by the county?  Then we could sell the old county site to someone who promises to build on it. 

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Would a new center have to be so closed off?  Could you put it in the warehouse district with Retail on the ground?  What about Retail and the RTA hub that was proposed?

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Just spitballing here but it's almost certain that the County will do a deal like what they just did with their headquarters - have a private developer build/own/operate and they will pay rent.  The County already has a relationship with Geis and from all accounts is very happy with their new headquarters.  Geis is buying up more land in the area of E. 9th and Prospect.  Should we be looking at that spot?

 

Edit: Any County deal like that would have to go through the public bidding process.  But if Geis is looking, the locational advantage of having all County functions in one area may be key when the County weighs options.

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As much as I hate the complex, I can't get behind spending $500 million on new digs when the current building is barely 40 years old. These structures were built to last twice that long.

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As much as I hate the complex, I can't get behind spending $500 million on new digs when the current building is barely 40 years old. These structures were built to last twice that long.

 

I agree.  I love new development but it is shameful that something like that could be built and be on the table for demo this quickly.  Remind yourself that Group Plan buildings were built in the early 1900s and have been continuously occupied!!!

 

I'm in the Justice Center a good deal and although it's a disgusting building, I find it suspicious that it's a foregone conclusion that it's structurally unsalvageable.

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^^You may have a very well-founded complaint about the initial design quality and maintenance for the last 40 years, but it's a sunk cost at this point. The county needs to make a decision based on life cycle costs over some horizon starting as of today, given today's building condition.

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^^You may have a very well-founded complaint about the initial design quality and maintenance for the last 40 years, but it's a sunk cost at this point. The county needs to make a decision based on life cycle costs over some horizon starting as of today, given today's building condition.

 

Buildings older and in worse shape are frequently remodeled into modern space (office or residential). I don't disagree with your point, but the reward for decades of poor (or no) maintenance should not be a bottomless pit of money.

 

Admittedly I've been in the complex only a couple times, but it seemed no worse than most other buildings of that age. Certainly nothing that warranted a full scale rebuild.

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There's been a lot of belt-tightening at the County recently. Didn't they just announce 10% cuts in every department?  This might be why.  I'm surprised it's just now getting media coverage.  Hopefully this time they do build something capable of serving multiple generations.  40 years is a ridiculous lifespan for an office tower.  Quite the scandal in retrospect!

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I hope this isn't what Freddy Collier was talking about when he mentioned something "very exciting" for downtown.  Got my blood pressure up for nothing.

 

I think this is pretty huge news actually. 

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Wow.  I had heard some rumblings, but never thought this day would actually come.  I once heard that the County spent more money to build the JC than was spent building the Sears Tower.

 

I am trying to think of all that the JC houses.  I believe it has all of the following: the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas general division for both criminal and civil, the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts, the Cuyahoga County Jail and Sheriff's office, Cleveland Municipal Court and its Clerk of Courts, Cleveland Police HQ, and the city jail.

 

My personal ideal outcome would be to split the Justice Center into separate complexes.  One could be for the jails and criminal cases.  The other could be for civil litigation matters, including the general division and maybe the two which are in the old county courthouse (probate and domestic relations).  Put the criminal stuff and the jails on the outskirts of downtown, or maybe even beyond that, and leave the civil divisions in the heart of downtown.

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I concede that the JC is not an attractive building but it is a good example of brutalist architecture and although it is not en vogue now, I believe its worth preserving to give character to the skyline and city.  It is interesting to walk down the street and see examples of buildings from different era's... this is what gives character to cities.  The opposite of character can be said of the new generic Cuyahoga County building which looks like it could belong in a Beachwood office park. 

 

Until all the large swaths of vacant lots downtown are redeveloped, we should not tear down a building because nobody likes the style at the moment.  As strong as the exterior structure appears to be, I would love to see this redeveloped as apartments, hotel, or whatever else would be the highest and best use.  If the county needs a new JC, so be it and the area by the FBI building seems like a perfectly good spot.     

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Put the jail & criminal courts on the current Division of Printing site, and put the police HQ and civil courts downtown. I think maybe even the criminal courts could be kept downtown. Just add some holding cells to the new Justice Center.

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^I think you need the police HQ and City jail on the same site, just like you need county jail and Sheriff on the same site.  Fire HQ is on the outskirts of downtown.  No reason police can't in the same area.  All they do is drive into the basement anyways.

 

^^If I read above correctly, the demolition is not due to some perceived aesthetic flaws (which this board certainly believes to exist), but rather due to structural issues.

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^both municipal and common pleas judges handle civil and criminal cases.  I don't think they would want to travel to two different locations and they would want their own courtrooms rather than sharing.

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^^If I read above correctly, the demolition is not due to some perceived aesthetic flaws (which this board certainly believes to exist), but rather due to structural issues.

 

From the article: Public Works Director Michael Dever said the exterior of the Justice Center is sound, but the interior needs major upgrades.  "Most of the systems in the building need to be replaced, from the electrical to the plumbing to the elevator system," he told council members Tuesday. "They have reached the end of their useful life."

 

Sounds like its no longer functional as a JC but I am sure it could be redeveloped with some creativity.  This reminds me of the Ameritrust Tower that was proposed to be torn down - I am glad that failed because the redevelopment of that into The 9 has turned out unbelievably good and a real asset for the city.   

 

 

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^Interesting.  I would be in favor of a good gutting of the building, especially the tower.  Refitting the jail and police HQs would be the major challenge I would think.

 

^^Correct, but the entire system would be much, much more efficient if they did not.  There should be separate divisions.  Civil matters languish at Cuyahoga county because the criminal stuff takes precedence, and civil trials are constantly interrupted and delayed for sentencings, PVs, etc.  Separating the dockets would be a smart reform for the betterment of the county and this move would be the perfect time to do that.

 

Of course, many judges would be opposed because they all want to their campaign slogan to read "tough on crime"

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I concede that the JC is not an attractive building but it is a good example of brutalist architecture and although it is not en vogue now, I believe its worth preserving to give character to the skyline and city.  It is interesting to walk down the street and see examples of buildings from different era's... this is what gives character to cities.  The opposite of character can be said of the new generic Cuyahoga County building which looks like it could belong in a Beachwood office park. 

 

Until all the large swaths of vacant lots downtown are redeveloped, we should not tear down a building because nobody likes the style at the moment.  As strong as the exterior structure appears to be, I would love to see this redeveloped as apartments, hotel, or whatever else would be the highest and best use.  If the county needs a new JC, so be it and the area by the FBI building seems like a perfectly good spot.     

 

Agreed, though it's still very sad that these buildings are not maintained for the long-haul.  But the bones are still good, so I would support re-purposing.

 

IMO they should build on a warehouse district surface lot---state of the art courts and jail, but keep ground-level retail to not kill the life of the neighborhood.  Once completed and moved, the current JC can be renovated into office and/or residential.  The jail could be torn down to make some public greenspace at the base of the tower.

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^ I'd support re-purposing, but only if someone added additions on the bottom floors, bringing it up to the sidewalks. Sure, the JC is ugly, but I can live with that. The reason I hate it so much is that it completely disregards the urban fabric. If someone can fix that, then by all means, please re-purpose it!

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How about a variation on the West Side Transit Center? This massing has one tower, but if there were two towers (one at the west end for criminal division including the jail, police/deputies offices etc., and the other at the east end for civil division including offices, data processing, archives, etc.) it might offer some benefits. Below all of this you could have a climate-protected bus hub with 24-hour restaurants, newstands and retailers.

 

21223473524_1bfe805ba8_b.jpgWSTC massing2 by Ken Prendergast, on Flickr


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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I hope this isn't what Freddy Collier was talking about when he mentioned something "very exciting" for downtown.  Got my blood pressure up for nothing.

 

I think this is pretty huge news actually.

 

Meh.  Except that we don't even know what/if anything is going to happen. This is literally an announcement that the County is talking about it.

 

Being excited for this is like getting worked up that the Sun is going to burn out eventually.  Sure, it will be a calamitous event but we and everyone we know will probably be long dead.

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Well I am happy that discussions are moving forward on this as I posted the first article on this over a 1 year ago.

http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php/topic,3323.msg700350.html#msg700350  I am still trying to wrap my head around the possibilities here. I have always dreamed of the inJustice Ctr coming down. Although if feasible I would be open to a total rehab only if it included a re-cladd of the exterior, something like what is being done to the Celabreeze bldg. But that probably isn't cost effective. My thought is to have the courts downtown and the jail complex away from the city ctr. Available land along the OC would seem to be a good fit for the jail, closer to the Juvenile complex. It would be huge for the Warehouse District if this land became available.

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The jail building on the corner of St Clair and W 3rd is still fairly new. Would it be possible for them to keep the jail building there, and then build on the parking lots across W 3rd? I could see that happening and the current brick building between the lots being merged into a new building like the old Society Bank building is merged into Key Tower. That would keep everything roughly in the same spot downtown, while freeing up the area of the block nearest the Hilton and Medmart. Also we wouldn't have to worry about the ancillary support businesses all jetting off to the opposite side of downtown if it moved.

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I can see portions of the Justice Center being demolished -- the new jail among them. While the tower is visually bland, I got a new appreciation of how tall it is when the Hilton hotel was being built and topped off. Some of the smaller structures that skirt the tower can go away -- like the new jail and anything else that has no street presence. Maybe the jail was built strong enough to be converted into a parking garage?? Or just demolish it for a parking deck over street-level leasable commercial spaces (restaurants, bail bonds, public defender's office) .

 

But you're right. The jail can be anywhere, preferably not in the central business district. Although prisoner moves from jail to court and back again can be a security issue (apart from video arraignments). The courts should not be moved out of downtown. If they did move, so would many law offices and restaurants.


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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They should put it on the opportunity corridor

 

Why not? The juvenile justice center is over there. Might as well put the adult jail next to it to show the kids what possible future awaits them if they don't clean up their act!


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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Is there room at Tower City, near the Federal courthouse?

 

Also, what is the story with the Cleveland portion of the Justice center, which is municipal courts and the Police Headquarters (right?)

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