Government & Politics

Construction team picked for Johnson County courthouse

The new courthouse will be built across Santa Fe Street directly north of this existing courthouse building.
The new courthouse will be built across Santa Fe Street directly north of this existing courthouse building.

The Johnson County Commission is poised to approve a team led by JE Dunn Construction to design and build the new Johnson County Courthouse, which will be one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the county.

“We’ve reached a significant milestone for this construction project,” Brad Reinhardt, director of Johnson County facilities management, told the commission at its meeting Thursday. “It was a rigorous selection process.”

A selection committee has recommended the design/build team led by JE Dunn Construction but also including the architecture firms of TreanorHL and Fentress. JE Dunn is based in Kansas City. TreanorHL is based in Lawrence and has a Kansas City office. Denver-based Fentress has a specialty in courthouse design.

Other teams that responded to the procurement request were Burns & McDonnell and NBBJ; McCownGordon/DLR; Turner/HOK; and Weitz/AECOM.

The three short-listed teams were JE Dunn, Burns & McDonnell and McCownGordon. After interviews in early October, the JE Dunn team was recommended based on experience, track record with similarly complex projects, understanding of the scope of services and fully integrated team approach. JE Dunn and TreanorHL have completed other big projects in Johnson County.

“I’m impressed with the process,” Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert said Thursday. Eilert said he had spoken with someone from a team that was not chosen who nevertheless praised the professionalism of the procurement process for this high-profile project. Other commission members also supported the process and the recommendation.

The commission votes Nov. 2 on the first contract with the JE Dunn team, $4.2 million for schematic design, design development and preconstruction services. Reinhardt said once that contract is executed, the JE Dunn team will build the new courthouse. It will be built across Santa Fe Street directly north of the existing courthouse building and directly west of Olathe City Hall in downtown Olathe.

An accurate and current rendering of the new building does not yet exist but should be available in a few months.

The exact design and construction cost is not yet known but is estimated at about $144 million. The entire budget for the new building — including land, demolition and other ancillary costs — is $193 million.

Reinhardt said this will be the largest vertical construction project in the county’s history. It’s possible because voters in November 2016 approved a 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax increase to help fund the courthouse, replacing the existing structure that’s considered to be cramped and badly outdated. The sales tax will also help fund a $21 million medical examiner’s office. That project has a separate procurement process. The county expects to select the construction manager for that building later this year.

The construction timeline calls for the new courthouse groundbreaking by the second or third quarter of 2018. Total construction will take until mid-to-late 2020.

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley