Replacement Courthouse Project

Clackamas County residents will soon have a safe and secure place to seek justice.

New courthouse artist rendering
New courthouse artist rendering
New courthouse artist rendering

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. 

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 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. 

FP3 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.

The current courthouse is no longer adequate to meet our needs

Earthquake danger

Earthquake Risks
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.

Risk of electric shock

Safety Concerns
There are significant safety concerns due to failing building systems. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are functionally obsolete and in some cases beyond repair.

Prisoner in a cage

Security Challenges
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 prisoners/defendants. Jurors have no sequestration room on site, increasing the risk of improper communications.

Judge

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

Aerial view of Redsoils Campus in Oregon City

The new courthouse will be built on the county's Red Soils Campus in Oregon City

Hand holding key
We own the land.

Architect holding plans
Our approved campus master plan includes the new courthouse.

Plumbing
We proactively installed utility infrastructure.

Clackamas County’s Commitment

Building a new courthouse aligns with all five strategic priorities in Clackamas County’s Performance Clackamas plan and goals on Climate Action.

Build public trust through good government

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

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

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

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

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.  

 

Courthouse FAQ

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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.

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The current plan allows for a 215,000 square foot courthouse that features:

  • 16 courtrooms
  • 20 judicial chambers
  • adequate space for the District Attorney’s Office
  • public/staff screening areas
  • administrative space
  • jury assembly spaces
  • secure loading/staging spaces
  • enhanced prisoner transfer facilities
  • grand jury space
  • safe corridors for courthouse users
  • secure holding cells for violent offenders

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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There are two types of Juvenile Court — delinquency and dependency. The new courthouse will hold the dependency portion, which is currently operated out of the existing courthouse.

Delinquency is operated from the Juvenile building on the Red Soils Campus (in close proximity to the new courthouse) and will remain there.

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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.

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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.

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Clackamas County is receiving $94.5 million in matching bond funds from the 2021 Oregon Legislature, which represents the state’s 50% contribution of funds toward the estimated $189 million project.

The private partner, to be selected during a competitive procurement process, will finance, design, build and maintain the new courthouse over a 30-year period. The state and the county will not make any payments until the building is completed and ready for occupancy. Upon completion, the state contribution will be applied as a lump sum payment towards the private financing with the remainder repaid by the county over the 30-year term of the project agreement.   

The public-private partnership provides the best value in keeping with the County’s commitment to affordability with the courthouse project.

The new courthouse building will be built without any tax increases.

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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.

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Resources

Policy Sessions

11/2/21 Courthouse Project Update - Gary Barth
9/21/21 Overview of New County Courthouse Project Update - Gary Barth
8/10/21 New County Courthouse Project Update - Gary Barth
6/29/21 County Courthouse Project Update
5/5/21 New County Courthouse Project Update
4/21/21 County Courthouse Project Update
1/12/21 New Circuit Courthouse Project Update
7/7/20 Courthouse Replacement Project
2/18/20 Courthouse Replacement Project
2/4/20 USDA Wood Innovation Grant – County Courthouse Mass Timber
10/22/19 Courthouse Replacement Project – Financing Plan and Delivery Approach
10/2/19 Quarterly General County Budget Committee Meeting
6/18/19 Courthouse Replacement Project: Community Benefit Agreements Info Session
1/29/19 Courthouse Replacement Project Quarterly Report
9/18/18 Courthouse Replacement Project Quarterly Report
6/26/18 Courthouse Replacement Project Quarterly Report
10/17/17 Courthouse Replacement Project Planning
2/14/17 Red Soils Courthouse Funding Request for 2017 Biennium

News Coverage

12/10/21 Pamplin Media – Clackamas County submits $189M courthouse construction plan
7/7/21 Portland Tribune – State approves $1 for Clackamas courthouse, pending joint report
4/22/21 Lake Oswego Review – Clackamas County at fork in road on courthouse development
7/08/20 Portland Tribune – Clackamas County mulls private partner to build courthouse
2/26/20 Clackamas Review: Need for new Clackamas County courthouse is overwhelming
7/22/19 Clackamas Review: Clackamas County details plans for courthouse construction
7/11/19 Portland Business Tribune: State chips in another $31.5M toward county courthouse
7/11/19 West Linn Tidings: Construction plans for new Clackamas County Courthouse moving forward
12/22/17 DJC Oregon: Clackamas County pursuing new courthouse
10/18/17 Portland Tribune: Board briefed on courthouse planning