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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Contractor recommended for construction of King County Children and Family Justice Center


Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company, is the top-ranked design-build team for the $154 million contract to construct a child dependency and juvenile justice courthouse, juvenile detention center, and 360-stall parking garage.


CFJC-Conceptual-Sketch2King County Executive Dow Constantine has accepted the recommendation of a contract review panel for selection of the Howard S. Wright company to build the county's new Children and Family Justice Center. The $154 million proposal would deliver a new facility able to accommodate the innovations and partnerships that have made King County a national model for child welfare court and juvenile justice, with one of the lowest juvenile detention rates in the nation.

The project will include a new Community Resource Center, therapeutic courts for youth and families struggling with substance abuse, and alternative programs that help keep families intact by providing counseling, parenting classes, and treatment options.

King County is also conducting a race equity assessment of the building project, which will involve the public in an action plan to help address racial impacts of the project within the larger juvenile justice system.

Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company, teamed with HOK and Integrus Architecture on the winning design-build proposal for the child dependency and juvenile justice courthouse, juvenile detention center, and a 360-stall parking garage. The contract has been sent to the King County Council for review and approval.

The contract is the culmination of a 12-year planning, stakeholder engagement, and procurement process to replace the aging Youth Services Center at 12th and Alder in Seattle. After the contract is reviewed by the King County Council and signed by the King County Executive in early 2015, the proposal's design will be refined during a process that includes many opportunities for public involvement.

The design-build procurement process helps reduce risks for the county by signing a single contract that includes both the contractor and the design team. Two other teams were invited to participate in a Request for Proposals process in 2013.

The contract includes a Project Labor Agreement that includes a 15 percent requirement for building trade apprenticeships, and a voluntary 16 percent use of women- and minority-owned businesses. Howard S. Wright set a voluntary goal of 20 percent use of Small Contractors and Suppliers, exceeding the county's 17 percent requirement. King County and the preferred contractor are planning extensive outreach to organizations and potential subcontractors to help meet these goals.

Construction is planned to start in spring of 2016. The new courthouse and detention center will be built on the north part of the nine-acre site, which is now used mostly for parking. The current facility will remain in operation through 2019 during construction of the Justice Center. The Youth Services Center will then be demolished to make way for the parking garage.

Project managers and conceptual designs will be available at a public open house that will be scheduled for January 2015 at the Youth Services Center. A public involvement schedule for the schematic design process and subcontractor information events will be developed and advertised after the design-build contract is signed.

The new Children and Family Justice Center is expected to save $1.5 million annually in operational efficiencies during its first 30 years. Site layout, parking, pedestrian and bicycle amenities, public landscaped open areas, and the reconnection of East Alder Street are among the design features resulting from community input and neighborhood planning goals. An 11-member Neighborhood Advisory Committee will continue its role helping guide the project's Oversight Committee.

Howard S. Wright was acquired by Balfour Beatty Construction Services U.S. in 2011. Both companies enjoy a long history providing general contracting, at-risk construction management, and design-build services. The company's recent public facilities projects include the Washington State Department of Information Services in Olympia, the Wake County Justice Center in Raleigh, N.C., and the San Diego Women's Detention Facility in California. The company has been cited as a Top 10 Domestic Building Contractor and Top 10 Green Builder by Engineering News-Record.

Project Facts

Site: 9.1 acres, including 1.55 acres of public landscaped areas with a pedestrian and bicycle greenway that reconnects East Alder Street between 12th and 14th Avenues after a 50-year closure

Courthouse: 137,000 square feet with ten courtrooms, which is an increase of three courtrooms and 40,000 square feet compared to current building

Detention Center: 92,000 square feet and 144 dorms, which is a decrease of 30,000 square feet and 58 beds compared to current building. Design includes flexibility to respond to changing needs of next 50 years.

Construction begins: Spring 2016

Justice Center opens, current buildings demolished: Fall-Winter 2019-2020

Parking Garage opens: Fall 2020

The Children and Family Justice Center will better support the programs that have helped King County achieve one of the lowest juvenile detention rates in the nation. Additionally, King County is leading a race equity assessment in 2015 and developing an action plan and pilot projects using the principles of transformative justice to help end racial disparities still found in juvenile detention. For more information,

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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