The expansion of the Justice Building on the grounds of the State Capitol is proceeding on schedule, officials say, with some construction expected to be completed by November.
The expansion project will renovate approximately 3,000 square feet of existing space and add approximately 25,000 square feet of new space. Construction has been underway since July.
“The full building expansion will be completed in the first part of November, as well as the first week of November,” Marty Sullivan, director of the Courts Administration Office, said Friday.
The Arkansas Supreme Court held an informal “finishing” ceremony for the expansion project late last month.
“This new extension will be the crown jewel of the Capitol complex,” Chief Justice John Dan Kemp said in a Feb. 25 press release. learn about the three branches of government, the importance of civility, and how our judicial system works.
“The Center will be an important facility for the three branches to come together, learn from each other, and illustrate why our republic is so special.”
The $12.8 million project will expand the north and south wings of the existing building that houses the Arkansas Supreme Court Library, Arkansas Court of Appeals and Courts Administrative Office. The expanded areas will line up next to the Supreme Court rotunda building. The designers, AMR Architects of Little Rock and Brackett-Krennerich and Associates of Jonesboro, will be responsible for creating the facade of the expansion.
The project will add 10,000 square feet of meeting space and 7,500 square feet that will serve as a welcome center and civic education.
“The expansion will provide new opportunities for the public to engage with the judiciary, learn about the essential role of the courts in upholding justice, and serve as a welcome center for students and adults. visiting the capital,” Sullivan said in a press release. .
Kemp previously said the project was approved by the Arkansas Supreme Court several years ago as part of the Justice Building’s master plan.
Kemp said the building needs a new roof, which will cost $1.2 million. He said the building also needed a new boiler, which will cost more than $1 million. Kemp said those expenses were rolled into this project, which prevented officials from using general revenue funds from the General Assembly for a special appropriation or governor’s rainy day funds for improvements.
“This entire project is funded by the Justice Administration Fund, which covers court costs and filing fees,” Sullivan said.
Kemp said it’s important to note that no taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for the expansion.
The project will also allow the Courts Administration Office to have all its staff under one roof, instead of being housed in separate buildings across the city. The project will eliminate rental expenses of more than $200,000 a year, Kemp said.
The Justice Building was dedicated in 1958. Prior to its construction, the chambers and courtroom of the Supreme Court were located in the State Capitol. The former Supreme Court Chamber, on the second floor of the south end of the building, is now used for meetings.