The state is planning to build an $81 million courthouse in Torrington, a step that will replace Superior Court buildings in Litchfield and Bantam and consolidate court operations in the Litchfield Judicial District.
Gov. Dannel Malloy announced details of the project Tuesday. The funding proposal for the new facility has been placed on the state bond commission’s agenda for Thursday.
The current Litchfield Judicial District courthouse—a granite block structure with a Seth Thomas clock tower on the Litchfield Town Green—was completed in 1889. It’s the third oldest courthouse in the state, and the legal community has long complained that its facilities are inadequate. There’s been discussion about a new facility for three decades.
“Though it’s taken more than a generation,” Malloy said in a statement, “I’m proud that we could move this project forward and begin the necessary work of building a 21st century courthouse. By consolidating operations into one facility, we can save taxpayers time and make operations more efficient.”
The Register Citizen newspaper in Torrington reports the building would house six civil courtrooms, two criminal courtrooms, an arraignment courtroom, four hearing rooms, six resident judges’ chambers, and one administrative judge’s chamber.
Plans call for the courthouse to be built on property formerly owned by The Torrington Company on Field Street in Torrington. It will also replace the Geographic Area Courthouse in Bantam, which operates in a leased facility; the Family Services Office in Litchfield; and the Juvenile Court in Torrington, which is also in a leased facility.
The Judicial Branch has requested more than $71 million in borrowing for the project. State officials say the project will create more than 1,400 construction jobs.
Officials plan to break ground in the fall, and complete the project by the end of 2015.
State Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, told the Register Citizen that a new courthouse in Litchfield County is well past due. “Litchfield is beautiful, but it doesn’t meet the needs of the judicial system,” said Willis. “The courts have been divided all over the place and this is an opportunity to bring them together under one roof.”