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New Judicial Center $6M Extra Cost

Top heavy budget puts a three-story structure under site scrutiny.

A design concept image by Silling Architects was presented in the March 29, 2023, Project Development Board meeting of a three-story building plan for the new Barren County Judicial Center. The three-story design drives up costs by $6M over the budgeted dollars. Photo/screen capture/Silling Architects

Staff Report

Frankfort’s Administrative Office of the Court Project Coordinator, Mark Bannister, is questioning extra costs of the county’s new judicial center if constructed as directed by its Project Development Board (PDB).

The Barren County Progress (BCP) confirmed that his concern with the PDB plan is with it being 8,590 square feet over the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) approved size. The chart provided in the Wednesday, March 29, PDB meeting shows it being roughly 15.2 percent more than allowed. This would add an additional $6 million to the project’s budgeted $32M; the increase in cost bringing it to $38M. He was concerned about how the board would offset these costs and the BCP has requested details as well.

Project architect, Tom Potts, selected by the AOC explained how the site in itself is problematic. He specifically detailed how the lot isn’t square and this causes design challenges. It was discussed how this design has the majority of people entering from Water Street and wasn’t squared off with West Main.

Design concept view from Northeast that shows the back of the planned Barren County Judicial Center as of March 29, 2023. Photo/screen capture/Silling Architects

Potts added the design was driving the costs because at some point the PDB chose to go to a three-floor building instead of two and this drives the square footage by almost 8,600 sq. ft. It was explained as having another level of hallways, a larger stairwell tower, and elevator shafts.

Potts led the board members through the amount of square footage approved by the AOC versus the amount in the design as it is now. He displayed a table of figures to demonstrate his point.

According to the area summary chart by Silling Architect in March, the increase of 8,590 square footage for the size of the planned Barren County Judicial Center represents the $6-million cost overages. The AOC column represents the size max set forth by the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Concept column represents the up-to-date sizes presented by the architect. Photo/screen capture/Silling Architects

From the very beginning of this project, the square footage totals have been referenced.  Dollars are tied to the size and the budget is put into place by the AOC.

Potts said their designers have already cut the size and made it as efficient as possible.  This is where they are and direction is needed by the PDB before they can continue.

Bannister asked if the two-story option would get them within the budgeted range and it was confirmed that Potts said, “Three stories is the only way to make the structure work within the constraints of the site.”

The BCP has requested details from all minutes of the PDB and can’t find discussions of a two-story building. Board members indicate there were discussions and even an initial design but no copies can be found. However, in the BCP issue dated August 31, 2022, it is reported that the footprint of the actual building will require changes because it has been discussed as being, at that time, a two-story building instead of three.

The first designs that were made public were by former Judge/Executive Micheal Hale on July 21, 2021, and as far back as then, the plan had a three-story building pushed to the side to allow room for an amphitheater to be placed in front of it, facing West Main Street.

The conceptual site plan for the Barren County Judicial Center presented in July 2021. Also depicted are the plans for a farmer’s market and stage park wedged between the post office and judicial center. Photo/screen capture/Silling Architects

The former fiscal court tried to buy more land which, would have allowed more room for a two-story building, but the Glasgow City Council wouldn’t sell it after the PDB indicated the AOC said this would be all the land needed.

The PDB members are now at a crossroads of their present plan’s costs and decisions must be made.

Will the County Judge/Executive Jamie Byrd and Mayor Henry Royse make more land available so that a two-story building can be built within budget, and facing West Main allowing it to be squared off?

Will the PDB continue to push the small footprint and force the building to be built with three floors and be over budget by $6M?

Or will the PDB drastically cut the size of offices, courtrooms, and the number of bathrooms, and use less expensive materials in design to meet the budget?

The meeting wrapped up as it opened with the question of where will the $6 million come from.  Bannister said he had no idea.

The next scheduled meeting for the PDB is Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at noon.

 Editor’s note: Coverage for this story was provided by confirmation of individuals in attendance and by Silling Architect document files, which were obtained by the BCP after the meeting. Additionally, a member of the PDB confirmed with BCP on Monday the statements printed above, and another member said they are an oversimplification of the issues and plan to address it in upcoming meetings.


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