Clackamas County residents will soon have a safe and secure place to seek justice.
Construction progress on Feb. 19, 2024
View previous construction photos
Construction of a much-needed replacement county courthouse is underway on the county’s Red Soils campus in Oregon City. It will open in 2025. The project will generate hundreds of local jobs and business opportunities and not require any new taxes.
Built in 1936, the current courthouse was designed to serve a population of less than 50,000 and can no longer adequately serve a population of 420,000 that continues to grow. The current courthouse is functionally obsolete, poses significant safety risks and contributes to delays in justice.
Recognizing the dire need for a replacement courthouse, the county and the Oregon Legislature allocated $189 million for the project in 2021 based on a pre-design estimate.
Since then, the costs of capital projects across Oregon have risen due to inflation and other factors, which presents a more precise understanding of the total project cost. Recognizing this before her 2022 retirement, Chief Justice Martha Walters wrote the Clackamas County Commissioners on June 23, 2022 committing the Oregon Judicial Department to requesting $61 million in Q-bonds for the state’s matching funds for the $313 million cost.
The county sold the necessary bonds in the summer of 2022 locking in a very attractive interest rate to finance the courthouse. The courthouse price is fixed, material costs are set and protected from future inflation. Clackamas County fully supports the OJD’s request for $61 million, while also living within its means to fund its share of the courthouse.
The state-of-the-art replacement courthouse will mark the first time in Oregon history that a courthouse is delivered through a public-private partnership (P3), and will provide significantly more room and security for courthouse employees and visitors.
A P3 involves collaboration between a government agency and a private sector company to build large infrastructure projects such as a courthouse.
After a highly-competitive and transparent bidding process, Clackamas County selected Fengate PCL Progress Partners (FP3) to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the replacement courthouse over a 30-year period.
The FP3 consortium, now renamed the "Clackamas Progress Partners (CPP)," is comprised of:
- Developer: Fengate Asset Management
- PCL Investments Inc.
- Design-Build Contractor: PCL Construction Services Inc.
- Services Provider: Honeywell
- Design Services: DLR Group
Fengate, the consortium lead, has developed critical infrastructure since 2006. Combined, the consortium companies have participated in more than 100 successful P3 projects worldwide, including construction of more than 40 courthouses.
The county’s comprehensive analyses of alternatives revealed the P3 approach to be the most cost-effective, lowest-risk plan. The county will make fixed payments over 30 years.
CPP is required to reinvest in the replacement courthouse to ensure that it has many remaining decades of life after the contract expires. The county, which owns the courthouse during all phases of the project, will not make any payments until the building is ready for occupancy.
In addition to benefitting the people who use will it regularly, the courthouse project will also help boost the local economy. The design-and-build funds for the project will be spent over the next three years, creating hundreds of local jobs with competitive wages and opportunities for local labor and suppliers.
Fengate is also committed to hiring local disadvantaged, minority, and women-owned businesses, as well as service-disabled veterans’ businesses and small businesses in the community.
Artist Rendering Virtual Tour
The current courthouse is no longer adequate to meet our needs
A 2015 seismic evaluation found the existing courthouse has numerous structural deficiencies. Soil tests indicate the ground under the building could liquefy during an earthquake. The courthouse is currently 3 feet from the Willamette River and cannot be seismically retrofitted or modified to modern standards.
There are significant safety concerns due to failing building systems. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are functionally obsolete and in some cases beyond repair.
A capacity shortage in the current courthouse highlights the need for separate building "circulation zones". The current courthouse lacks separate paths for victims, witnesses, and detainees/defendants. Jurors have no sequestration room on site, increasing the risk of improper communications.
Delays in Justice
With the current courthouse, the gap between space availability and judicial needs leads to delays in justice. The existing courthouse cannot handle the demands of our population, which has led to delays in trials and incarcerations, and affected child support hearings and civil litigation trials.
We are invested and moving forward
The replacement courthouse is now being built on the county's Red Soils Campus in Oregon City.
We own the land.
Our approved campus master plan includes the new courthouse.
We proactively installed utility infrastructure.
Clackamas County’s Commitment
Build public trust through good government
Clackamas County provides a variety of services, and responsible use of public dollars is always at the front of our mind. We know trust begins with transparency, and we commit to providing updates during each phase of the project.
Grow a vibrant economy
In addition to jobs provided during construction, courthouses include a variety of public safety, administration, and social services careers. Courts also resolve business agreements and property transactions that help keep the economy moving.
Build a strong infrastructure
Long-term investments like the courthouse will last for decades, improving the experience for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of residents, community members, public safety officials, and victims that enter the courthouse each day.
Ensure safe, healthy, and secure communities
It’s the job of the courthouse to ensure everyone receives their day in court. Trial delays, proximity between the accused and their accusers, and hallways shared by criminal defendants and the public are just a few examples of the overwhelming public safety need.
Honor, utilize, promote, and invest in our natural resources
Clackamas County views public infrastructure investments through a lens of carbon neutrality, which includes the buildings we own and operate. A new courthouse allows the county to step closer to carbon neutrality by pursuing climate friendly building materials like cross-laminated timber and carbon neutral energy resources like solar power.
Our current courthouse is outdated, and was originally designed with a single courtroom and county offices. It has been remodeled countless times to accommodate 11 courtrooms.
Further, it was not built to modern seismic standards, and retrofitting for seismic events is not a prudent decision if it no longer meets the needs of the community. A recent appraisal indicates the building is at the end of its economic life. The building also forces victims of violence to come into contact in hallways with the same people who committed crimes against them. This is intimidating for witnesses and victims, and creates an overall safety issue for all courthouse users.
Lastly, because of the safety issues, the county is requesting half of the construction costs for the new courthouse from the State, creating a one-time opportunity to get this accomplished at minimal cost to the residents of Clackamas County.
Please see the Project Fact Sheet for more.92721
The 215,000-square-foot courthouse will have:
- 14 courtrooms
- 20 judicial chambers
- Offices for the District Attorney
- Secure loading and staging areas
- Improved prisoner transfer facilities
- Jury assembly and grand jury spaces
- Safe corridors for courthouse users
- Secure holding cells for violent offenders
The new courthouse design integrates into the existing 68-acre Red Soils Campus and takes a forward-thinking approach to operations, security, technology, and sustainability. The courthouse providing full court services will balance public accessibility, building occupant security, operational efficiencies, and the incorporation of proven technological developments, to provide a facility that is functionally advanced.
The courthouse design will embody the ideals of our democratic society through the creation of an image that is permanent, solid, and durable while simultaneously reflecting the transparency that is the hallmark of the American justice system.
The interior design vision emerged from the simultaneous consideration of interior wayfinding, operational clarity, user wellness, and trauma-informed design. The new courthouse design is defined by an abundance of daylight with uninterrupted views providing a powerful connection to the outdoors to support the principles of trauma-informed design by engaging people’s natural affiliation for nature and views.
Plus, by moving to the Red Soils Campus, courthouse users will now only be steps away from departments such as: Social Services; Behavioral Health; Public Health; Juvenile; Veterans Services; and the Family Justice Center. This means that people don’t have to drive all over town to access the various functions of county government, and proximity will improve efficiency and collaboration between these different public service agencies.
- This project will also provide a big boost for the local economy.
- It will create local jobs with competitive wages, and provide opportunities for local labor and businesses.
- Clackamas Progress Partners are committed to hiring local disadvantaged, minority-owned, women-owned and service-disabled-veteran-owned businesses.
- This project also supports the county’s Climate Action Plan.
- The County’s “Performance Clackamas” is looking for carbon neutral operations by 2050, while Oregon’s Climate Action Plan looks for a 45% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2035.
- Combatting climate change is a clear, stated priority for the County. The courthouse design has incorporated an aggressive decarbonization strategy that minimizes carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from resource use.
- Carbon emissions have been reduced by 35% as compared to the highly efficient Oregon minimally code compliant baseline. Beyond simply saving annual energy, carbon and energy cost, the courthouse design decreases the County’s exposure to a potentially volatile energy market.
- Design selections made by Clackamas Progress Partners in collaboration with Clackamas County focus on operations, security, technology, and sustainability.
- Best-practices in use of materials, systems and energy efficiency are embedded within the design to attain LEED Version 4.1 Gold Certification, which is the next generation standard for green building design, construction, operations and performance.
- The courthouse project is participating in the Oregon Green Energy Technology in Public Buildings program, which will include technology to produce at least 25-percent of the building energy onsite.
- The use of mass timber adds to our sustainability commitment and will bring an immediate connection to Oregon as community members enter the courthouse.
No. Simply put, we need more space for enough judges and courtrooms — right now we have enough of a population for three additional judges to handle, but we have no space for them or courtrooms, which leads to serious delays in justice.92721
A new courthouse will:
- Improve safety, as the current courthouse was never designed to have so many courtrooms therefore victims of violence are forced to come into contact in hallways with the same people who committed those crimes
- Create a more responsive and efficient local justice system, greater measures of safety for victims, and increased accessibility
- Place residents steps away from other important co-located services, such as social services, behavioral health, public health, and more.
The county plans to build the new courthouse on the county’s Red Soils Campus in Oregon City by 2025. That will meet projected county needs for the next 50 years and comply with specifications outlined by the Oregon Judicial Department.92721
Yes. There are two distinct types of juvenile proceedings: delinquency and dependency. The new courthouse will hold both types of court proceedings.92721
Yes! Rather than being located in downtown Oregon City with extremely limited parking options, the new courthouse will have great access to public transit and ample parking. The county will comply with all Oregon City parking requirements for the campus.92721
There is nothing in the county’s plans to tear the current building down. Our current position is that the building will become surplus property once the new courthouse is built. There is no intended future use by the county, and the building will likely be sold to a new owner who commits to remodeling and refurbishing the building for new uses.92721
Clackamas County received $94.5 million in matching bond funds from the 2021 Oregon Legislature, which represented the state’s 50% contribution of funds toward the then-estimated $189 million project. After a competitive bidding process, Clackamas County selected Fengate PCL Progress Partners to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the replacement courthouse over a 30-year period. It will mark the first time in Oregon history that a courthouse is delivered through a public-private partnership (P3).
The county’s comprehensive analyses of alternatives determined that a P3 approach is the most cost-effective, lowest-risk plan. The project will not require any new taxes. The county will make fixed payments over 30 years. The county will own the courthouse during all phases of the project, will not make any payments until the building is ready for occupancy.92721
Road funds, by law, are completely separate from courthouse funds. Road funds can only come from dedicated road funding sources (state gas tax, vehicle registration fees), and these funds can only go to roads.92721
- #ClackCo Courthouse Industry Day Webinar, recorded July 7, 2021
- 2020 Legislative Report
- 2019 Legislative Report (pg. 10–12; 74–85)
- 2017 Legislative Report (pg. 13–14; 51–71; 131–142)
- Final Report: National Center for State Courts
- Mass Timber Courthouse Designs funded by the Wood Innovation Grant
- Red Soils Master Plan
- Project Update for Hillendale Neighborhood Association, May 9, 2023