JOLIET – Will County officials have received the most detailed design thus far for the new Will County Judicial Complex.
The tentative renderings are being reviewed by the Will County Board. The new courthouse, expected to cost upward of $195 million, will be on the city block that sits between Joliet City Hall and the current Will County Courthouse. Construction is expected to start in 2018.
Wight & Co. has dedicated lower floors to high-volume courts and offices, such as jury commission, the clerk’s office, civil process and traffic.
The 10-floor building will have central holding, mechanical and electrical operations on its basement floor.
The first floor features an expansive, high-ceiling lobby with walls of windows and a spacious jury commission room that should be a huge improvement over the cramped spaces used in the current courthouse.
Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt reminded the Will County Board last week just how much the courthouse wears on those using it.
“It’s not only litigants,” he said. “I’ve been apologizing to jurors now for the last 15 years because of the very poor way we treat them with the jury assembly room. And those are all citizens, those are all people who live in this county and vote in this county. We have at least 10,000 jurors come in every year. It’s the employees. it’s everybody.”
The second floor’s space is mostly designated for Will County Circuit Clerk Office operations and the high-volume criminal misdemeanor and civil small claims courts.
The third floor includes offices for the Will County State’s Attorney, Will County Sheriff, adult probation and a law library, along with four criminal misdemeanor courts. Just outside the windows of the third floor is the roof over the lobby, which will be topped with green landscaping.
The fourth floor is expected to have four criminal felony courts, criminal special proceedings and the public defender’s office.
The fifth floor is where the building loses another wing. This floor is tapped for three criminal felony courts and a café that has been described as “soups, sandwiches and high-end vending.”
County officials do not want to operate a food service, and there were brief mentions months ago of having a third party manage this section. Outside the café is a landscaped terrace area on the roof over the north wing.
Floors six and seven are nearly identical and each include two high-volume family courts, two regular family courts and one criminal bench court.
Floors eight and nine are pegged for civil jury trials, criminal felony courts, criminal bench courts, a civil bench court, a civil jury court and a foreclosure court.
The 10th floor would be home to the grand jury, court administration and civil special proceedings, bench and probate courts.