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Local News

Will County seeking independent party to oversee courthouse project

Snow gently falls Jan. 11 over the Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet. The county will seek an independent party to oversee construction of the building's replacement.
Snow gently falls Jan. 11 over the Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet. The county will seek an independent party to oversee construction of the building's replacement.

JOLIET – Will County leaders soon will be on the hunt for an independent third party to keep an eye on the construction of a new $150 million to $170 million courthouse, according to Ragan Freitag, a County Board member and chairwoman for the Capital Improvements Committee.

The title is officially called “commissioning agent,” she said. Whoever fills the role will serve as a watchdog of sorts to make sure the building’s operations, including its electrical, mechanical and heating and air conditioning components, are built the way they should be, Freitag said.

“This is a big project. For a project of this magnitude, you really want someone to oversee the construction,” Freitag said.

Freitag said the county will put out a request for proposals once the scope of work is decided.

Salary and other costs associated with the position are yet to be decided, and Freitag declined to give an estimate, saying the cost will be determined once a scope of work is finalized.

Whoever fills the role will report directly to the county, and will not be associated with either the architect – Darien-based Wight & Co. – or the construction manager, which remains undecided, she said.

The new courthouse, if built as planned, would be 390,000 square feet and 10 stories high, plus a basement. The new building would accommodate about 34 courtrooms, with 30 initially built.

In May 2014, county leaders bought the site of the former First Midwest Bank at Ottawa and Jefferson streets in Joliet with the intent to build a new courthouse there.

The design phase likely will take a minimum of 18 months, while a groundbreaking is expected in 2018 with a two- to three-year timeline for completion. The county hired Wight & Co. last year to complete preliminary programming work for the project.

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