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Council approves contract for construction of Children and Family Justice Center


Metropolitan King County
Council News

Council approves contract for construction of Children and Family Justice Center


Next step in plan to replace aging Youth Services Center


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted legislation approving the contract to build the new Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle’s Squire Park Neighborhood. The Design Build contract with Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company, HOK, and Integrus Architects is the next step in the voter-approved replacement of the aging facilities located at 12th Avenue and East Alder Street.

This central County facility handles north county juvenile dependency, truancy, at-risk youth, child-in-need-of-services cases, and countywide juvenile offender matters. The current complex is expensive to operate and maintain, courtrooms and the lobby are crowded and stressful for users, and the facility is inadequate for modern innovations and programs that have made King County a national leader in child welfare and juvenile justice

The facility is dated with most of the complex's major systems decayed well beyond the end of their useful life. There have been serious issues with the current buildings' electrical, heating and cooling systems as well as major plumbing problems that include sewer gasses permeating lower levels and brown water coming out of faucets.

Replacement of these facilities has been King County's highest-priority capital project since 2008 and in 2012 county voters approved a nine-year property tax levy lid lift to provide the capital funds needed to construct the Children and Family Justice Center. These capital funds can only be used for the construction of the center.

The adopted legislation approved a design-build contract with the Howard S. Wright team for $154 million. The new facility will replace the three buildings on site - the Alder Tower, Alder Wing, and Youth Detention Facility - with a new courthouse building, detention building, and parking garage. These building will be modern and efficient structures that will provide families who are working within the juvenile justice system a place of support and respect.

The more modern, efficient structures will feature a resource center for youth and families, space for innovative programs, and a smaller detention center with a flexible design to adapt to changing needs.

The anticipated design will reflect identified community priorities that include retail space on 12th Avenue, open space, enhancing public transportation options, and campus access. During the design phases for the project, concepts for the new facilities will be explored. The project will seek to incorporate design guidelines from the Court, neighborhood, and regulatory agencies.  

King County and the city of Seattle have signed a “Statement of Shared Commitment” to address racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system. The County will work with a facilitator to engage stakeholders and the surrounding community on issues regarding the facility and the broader issue of racial disparity. 

To address concerns raised about the construction of a new facility and its possible impact on communities of color, the County and the city of Seattle have expressed their commitment to investigate racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system through the signing of a “Statement of Shared Commitment.”  The County has committed to work with a third party to engage in stakeholder interviews and to scope the process for a racial disparity assessment.

 More information about the project can be found online at, or by calling the project hotline at 206-296-1100.

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at  and type in “2014-0486”.


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