A rendering of the interior of the future Federal Court House.
A past rendering of the interior of the approved Federal Courthouse project. Credit: Courtesy / Muñoz and Company - Lake Flato Architects

San Antonians soon will see a new federal courthouse take shape downtown.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a $117.4 million design-and-build contract for San Antonio’s new federal courthouse to Brasfield & Gorrie on Wednesday. The federal agency expects construction to begin next spring.

The move comes years after officials sought to replace the current federal courthouse, which sits in a pavilion left over from HemisFair ’68. The rundown, occasionally flea-infested building has had its problems with asbestos, mold, structural damage, and water quality. The existing courthouse also has inadequate safety measures. The building does not meet federal safety standards, and felons, extradited cartel hitmen, and leaders are escorted in close proximity to federal workers and members of the public.

The new courthouse will be downtown at Santa Rosa Avenue and Nueva Street, right next to the developing San Pedro Culture Park and across from Casa Navarro.

“The new state-of-the-art facility will meet the security, accessibility, and operational needs of the courts while helping them fulfill their important mission,” GSA Regional Administrator Bobby Babcock said.

The building is nearly 25 percent smaller than originally planned. According to GSA, the new courthouse will be 230,536 square feet. The agency approved a 305,000 square feet plan in 2008, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) said he worked with local officials and members of Congress from both parties to secure funding for the project and was proud to see it progressing.

“San Antonians deserve a secure facility that prioritizes the health and physical safety of employees and civilians, not a 1960’s movie theatre that is poorly suited for its current use,” Hurd said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Not only will a new secure facility alleviate countless concerns, it will be a beacon of downtown San Antonio’s renaissance.”

In 2016, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved more than $144 million to build the courthouse. The funding came out of the $947 million that Congress allocated to build eight federal courthouses across the country in its 2016 omnibus appropriations bill.

According to Hurd’s news release, the building will house the U.S. District Courts for the Western District of Texas, U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. Clerk of the Court, U.S. Magistrate Courts, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, Federal Public Defender and the General Services Administration.

The GSA said construction would conclude February 2022.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.