December 21, 2020
In December 2019, the Board of County Commissioners of Miami-Dade County, Florida approved an award to a private developer for the design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of a new civil and probate courthouse. The 23-story courthouse will encompass approximately 600,000 square feet of space and will contain 46 jury courtrooms and shelled space for four additional courtroom sets to accommodate future growth. It will also contain offices and public spaces to be occupied by the Clerk of Courts, a jury assembly area, a law library, and a secure parking garage.
The new courthouse will be developed by way of a funding and project delivery method called a Public Private Partnership (P3). The NCSC report Miami-Dade County Civil Courthouse P3 Project Lessons Learned: Final Report (2020) by Nathan Hall details the history of the project as well as the critical role P3 played.
One essential part that laid the foundation for the successful P3 implementation was the development of a Master Plan that assesses many areas for consideration:
- Case-filing growth
- Staff requirements
- Space needs
- Adjacency needs within departments and with other departments
- Security needs
- Accessibility needs
- Technology requirements
- Massing and blocking strategies
- Site evaluation
The complex and lengthy project has a greater chance of success when all entities involved can refer to a comprehensive, accurate plan. NCSC played a role in the Master Plan that was used for P3 proposals submitted.
In the P3 financing and delivery method, a public entity, such as the county, partners with a private entity to finance and develop the project. P3s are funded (as opposed to financed) either from project user fees, such as court fees, or from annual “availability payments,” which are direct payments from the public entity’s operating budget.
The specific P3 approach utilized by the County for the New Courthouse in Miami is referred to as Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM). Under this delivery model, the responsibilities for designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining are bundled together and assumed by private sector partners. The transfer of risks to private partners related to these areas of responsibilities is often touted as a main consideration of the DBFOM model.
A standard practice of P3 projects is the Value for Money (VFM) study, which compares the long-term financial outlook with the more familiar procurement processes such as Design-Bid-Build. VFM compares the higher financing and transaction costs inherent in Alternative Financing and Procurement model to the benefits of transferring risks to the private sector combined with the innovation that comes from an integrated, performance-based approach to the project.
If you are considering a building project to replace aging court infrastructure and want to gain valuable insights into how P3 was used, read Miami-Dade County Civil Courthouse P3 Project Lessons Learned: Final Report (2020). Additional information on how to pay for courthouses can be found in our Courthouse Planning Resources