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Nearing completion, new judicial complex will bring order to Staten Island's courts.

posted May 2, 2013, 5:49 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated May 2, 2013, 5:51 AM ]
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The rejuvenation of Staten Island’s civic and cultural hub in St. George has mainly focused on ambitious plans to build the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, an outlet mall, boutique hotel, retail shops and condos, all steps away from the ferry terminal.

While shovels have yet to break ground for those projects, construction is winding down on another development key to the area’s revitalization — a sprawling court complex.

Work on the five-story, $230 million, state Supreme Court building — the borough’s first new free-standing courthouse in 80 years — is slated to finish this summer. An exact date is still being finalized.

Several months ago, the state Dormitory Authority, which is overseeing construction, had projected a June completion date for on-site work, but has backed off that estimate.

Remaining tasks consist of coating exterior metal, installing flooring, wall coverings, furniture and equipment, as well as painting and other finishing touches, said an agency spokesman.

Officials said the building should be ready for move-in before autumn.

“We’re very excited about the courthouse opening,” said Thomas A. Sipp, president of the Richmond County Bar Association. “We’re practicing law now in cramped courtrooms. This is something that’s much needed. It’s better for the litigants. It’s better for the attorneys. The community has been under-served.”

Sipp noted that several Supreme Court courtrooms are currently shoehorned into offices at 130 Stuyvesant Pl., the same building that houses the county clerk’s and district attorney’s offices.

The 182,000-square-foot environmentally and energy-friendly complex will hold both the civil and criminal terms of state Supreme Court. It will also contain Criminal Court, which will move from Targee Street in Stapleton.

The transition will significantly upgrade Criminal Court’s dated facilities and expand Supreme Court’s resources, said Justice Judith N. McMahon, Staten Island’s administrative judge. Those improvements will be a boon to everyone who enters — litigants, criminal suspects, lawyers and spectators — aiding, and, in many cases, hastening proceedings, said court officials.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Richmond County,” said Judge McMahon. “This is a huge advantage for our Richmond County constituents.”

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