ELLICOTT CITY, MD-Howard County’s Circuit Courthouse and county office buildings are on target to be replaced by new and larger digs now that the county executive has said he intends to secure a private development company to help facilitate the design and construction of a new government complex. County executive James N. Robey estimates that the project, which would be 300,000 to 350,000 sf in size with 900 parking spaces, could cost as much as $100 million.

“The need for this facility grows more critical with each passing day,” Robey notes. “By approaching this situation with a private sector solution, I am hopeful that we can find a creative way to move this project forward that is acceptable within our revenue limitations.” The county office facility, the George Howard Building, was constructed in 1976, while the courthouse was built in 1843.

Two locations in the city have been isolated as the site for the new development, which would either be one large facility ranging from 300,000 sf to 350,000 sf, or a single 250,000-sf office building and a 150,000-sf structure to house the Circuit Courthouse. The complex could sit on a 25-acre county-owned parcel off Route 40, or it could be erected on the site of the existing courthouse’s parking lot.

The idea of replacing the older government facilities is not new; previous plans originated in 2000 had been put off due to financial concerns. This time around, however, there are new ideas for financing the project, such as selling two assets: 6751 Columbia Gateway Dr., built in 1990 and assessed at a current value of about $12.3 million; and the Thomas Dorsey Building at 9250 Bendix Rd., which was constructed 34 years ago and has a current assessed value of $8.4 million. The chosen private developer will also be expected to help conceive financing options.

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