Johnson County officials marked the start of construction on the new nearly $200 million courthouse Thursday with a groundbreaking ceremony in Olathe.
The seven-story building with 28 court rooms will replace the current facility across the street at Santa Fe Drive and Kansas Avenue. Completed in 1952, the current courthouse does not have facilities that allow inmates coming to court to be separated from the public, an issue that raised safety concerns. Moreover, the current facility is largely out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Johnson County voters approved a 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax to fund the new courthouse as well as a new coroner facility in November 2016. The proceeds from that sales tax yield revenue for individual cities as well as the county.
After a series of public engagements sessions, project designers updated their plans for the facility, reducing the building height to make it more in line with the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood in downtown Olathe.
The county says the new courtroom facility will “serve Johnson County’s judicial needs for more than 75 years,” noting that the facility cam be expanded to accommodate additional courtrooms in the future.
The project timeline calls for the building to be substantially completed by the end of 2020 with operations in the courthouse starting in 2021.
District Attorney Stephen Howe was among the speakers at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, and said the new facility would offer improvements in public safety.
“A courthouse is a building where people must always feel, and always be, safe,” Howe said. “Whether you are at the courthouse for a marriage certificate or adoption, to get a protection order, to appear in court as a victim or witness or to report for jury duty, public safety matters.”