After a five-year wait for funding, San Antonio finally will receive the $135 million needed to construct a new downtown federal courthouse if President Obama signs the $1.1 trillion budget bill passed by Congress Friday morning. The bipartisan budget deal for 2016 is expected to win the president's signature as soon as this weekend.
The courthouse will replace the run-down John H. Wood Federal Courthouse originally built to serve as a temporary movie pavilion for HemisFair '68. The new federal complex will be constructed on a vacant downtown square block on West Nueva Street that borders San Pedro Creek and previously served as the old San Antonio police headquarters. That building was razed after the 2012 opening of the $83.5 million Public Safety Headquarters, the new central office for the City's police and the fire departments.
(Read more about the courthouse here: After Five Years, San Antonio Expecting $135 Million for New Federal Courthouse)
“Today, the House of Representatives did its job and voted to fund the federal government through FY2016," said Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) in a Friday morning press release. “All in all, today’s bipartisan funding measure is a responsible development that moves us away from the recent harmful, indiscriminate sequester spending limits. I’m glad the House reached this sensible compromise that includes several provisions I fought hard to achieve for San Antonians and folks across our great nation.”
Earlier this week, Mayor Taylor said she would move to have the existing courthouse and training center on the southern border of Hemisfair demolished to make way for new development if the $135 million for new construction was approved. She expects the southern parcel of the park to become home to mixed-use development that would compliment the new developments and green space at Hemisfair. The existing federal courthouse and training center and proposed residential development and parking garage are next to the recently-opened, four-acre Yanaguana Garden.
The new courthouse funds will arrive more than five years after a proposed deal between the City and federal government was put on hold. The deal would have given the federal government the downtown block along West Nueva Street, worth $14 million, while the City would assume ownership of the federal courthouse and Spears Training Center, worth $9 million. Lake/Flato and Muñoz & Co. began designs on the new courthouse, which were 50% completed when preliminary funding was exhausted in 2013.
In addition to the courthouse, the legislation set aside $10 million for trauma clinical research, which is expected to benefit the National Trauma Institute headquartered in San Antonio. Castro also highlighted the increased funding for the Department of Justice's Body Worn Camera Partnership Program, new provisions to improve sustainable energy options and new language that would support efforts to reimburse Bexar County for locally-funded projects like the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Improvements Project.
*Top image: Conceptual rendering of the $135 million San Antonio Federal Courthouse project. Image courtesy of Lake/Flato Architects.