LOS ANGELES (CN) - Uncle Sam has awarded a $318 million contract for a new federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
The contract was awarded to Clark Construction Group, the U.S. General Services Administration said. Clark Construction will partner with the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architectural firm to design the new building in the Civic Center.
The 550,000-square-foot building will replace the courthouse on North Spring Street, home to active and senior judges of the Central District of California.
Sited at an abandoned 3.6-acre lot at First Street and South Broadway, the building will hold 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers, and will have 110 parking spots.
The U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Public Defender will share the building with federal judges.
The GSA says the project will be partly funded by partnering with a private developer who will buy the historic North Spring Street courthouse, in exchange for building a smaller federal building on First Street.
A new federal courthouse has been in the works for almost a decade, after complaints of overcrowding and security issues at Spring Street, the GSA said in a statement.
The GSA said the sale of the Spring Street courthouse will save tax dollars, as will the energy efficient design of the new courthouse.
"This project would also consolidate other federal agencies in Los Angeles into one state-of-the-art facility, shrinking the federal real estate footprint and eliminating multiple leases, saving taxpayer dollars," GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said in a statement.
Congressional Republicans, however, attacked the project as a "sham" this summer.
At an August hearing, Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Atwater, chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee, doubted whether the GSA could find a private-sector partner.
"I get it, I know these judges would love to have a much bigger, palatial courtroom with lots of extra room and big conference rooms," Denham said. "The question is, can we afford it?"
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, was more upbeat.
"At a time when we need to keep investing in our recovering economy, we expect the courthouse to create thousands of new jobs in the construction industry and related businesses," Roybal-Allard said in a statement after the contract was signed.
Denham, who introduced the newly passed Civilian Property Realignment Act, emphasized the need for reform in a statement.
"With millions of square feet of expensive leased space in the LA area, we need to continue to shrink and consolidate the federal footprint," Denham said in a statement. "Spring Street is one more step in ridding the federal government of unneeded property. Our Committee will continue to follow this project to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent properly and looks forward to working with the Administration to further reduce our nation's debt by enacting the Civilian Property Realignment Act into law."
The project should break ground in 2013 and be completed by 2016, the GSA says.
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