At a hearing this week, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other civic leaders proposed to Senator Cardin that the current Baltimore City courthouse needs to be rebuilt or at least refurbished. They explained that the 35-year-old structure does not contain any of the modern security standards – such as bomb-proof window glass – and is experiencing structural maintenance issues such as faulty pipes and electricity. Cardin was very receptive to the idea and agreed that the run-down condition of the building “compromise[s] the safety of judges, staff and public” who use it every day.
At the hearing, the Maryland Democrat (Cardin) invited suggestions for alternate funding methods, saying he doubts Congress — in the current budget climate — would appropriate the $100 million needed for refurbishment, much less the $200 million needed for a new courthouse.
“We’ve got to find creative ways to move forward,” said Cardin, who held the hearing in Courtroom 1-A of the Edward A. Garmatz Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on West Lombard Street.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake would prefer to rebuild the courthouse on the site of the current 1st Mariner Arena, saying that the jobs and economic impact of a construction project of this measure would be extremely beneficial for the city.
Charles O. Monk II, chairman of the board of the Greater Baltimore Committee, told Cardin the business group would explore a potential public-private partnership, a “P3,” to design and construct a courthouse on the arena site. Under such a partnership, the new courthouse, like other federal buildings, would be managed by the U.S. General Services Administration, said Monk, managing partner of Saul Ewing LLP’s Baltimore office.