Downtown: Merrimack County Superior Court renovation nears completion

  • Project manager Matt Beaulieu looks up at the front of the new Merrimack County Superior Court building in back of the existing courthouse on Tuesday, July 2, 2018. Beaulieu is looking to have a certificate of occupancy by September. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The front windows of the new Merrimack County Superior Court building in back of the existing courthouse are coming along ahead of schedule, according to workers on the project. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The new Merrimack County Superior Court building is in the back of the existing courthouse building. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • An artist’s rendering of the new Merrimack County Superior Court building is displayed on a fence outside the construction site on Court Street on Tuesday, July 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A crane works on bringing materials to the roof of the new Merrimack County Superior Court building on Tuesday, July 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/8/2018 8:44:58 PM

Months of exposed steel beams and sheets of tarp have fallen away from the new Merrimack County Superior Court to reveal a sweeping glass front as the project nears completion.

Concord developer Steve Duprey said the renovation of the county’s new courthouse is about 70 percent done and is on track to be completed by Sept. 10.

The project has encountered a few hurdles along the way, including a need for more nighttime and weekend construction in order to reduce the risk of disrupting trials at the current courthouse next door. And work was delayed a few months last year while plans were approved by the county and state, causing the start date to move from June to September 2017.

But only one challenge – an unforeseen need for additional fireproofing – has led to a cost increase, which Duprey has to cover due to the terms of the contract. He said the structure had to be draped in tarps and the inside heated to 40 degrees during the winter to allow the fireproofing material to conform to the building’s steel beams, a process that took about 3½ weeks and cost him $75,000.

But the extra cost didn’t faze Duprey.

“In the scope of a $15.7 million project. it’s pretty minor,” he said.

The Legislature earmarked $16.6 million to build a new courthouse near the state office complex on Hazen Drive, but a push by county and city officials, as well as Duprey, to keep the building downtown changed their minds. Had the project been built on Hazen Drive, it wouldn’t have been completed for another year, Duprey said.

The major challenge in keeping the 35,000-square-foot court downtown – as opposed to early plans to move it near the state office complex across the river – was in providing sufficient parking during the estimated 18-month construction process. The result was a design that met the city’s 150-car parking requirement.

Once the courthouse is finished, the state will buy it from the county for $15.7 million, which is a lower estimate that the state originally planned for.

Duprey said remaining work on the building’s exterior includes constructing a patio, finishing the roof and landscaping. Inside, workers still need to complete the courtrooms. Otherwise, most of the drywall, as well as mechanical, electrical and sprinkler work has been done, he said.

Discussion about a new courthouse dates back a decade. In 2006, the state considered Hazen Drive as a potential new site amid concerns about the aging courthouse.

Duprey began talking with the city in 2008 about turning part of the Sanel Block on South Main Street into a county courthouse. He and state eventually backed out of that plan.

When the new courthouse is completed, the current courthouse is set to be converted into county office space.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ActualCAndrews.)




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