Will County’s new courthouse to open early next month
Rex Robinson | 10/14/2020, 3:09 p.m.
In what began as a dream many years ago by the Will County board has finally come to fruition.
Will County officials on Friday cut the ribbon on the county's new courthouse and justice center, which replaces the smaller and outdated facility on Jefferson Street in Joliet. The courthouse will be open to the public starting in early November.
"With this courthouse, we have invested in the future of Will County," said Will County Board Speaker Mimi Cowan (D-Naperville). "This LEED certified building will give visitors, employees, and jurors a safer, more efficient path to justice and public safety. With 38 courtrooms, in 10 stories, our courthouse provides space into which our growing county can expand."
The path towards the new courthouse has been a long one. In August 2013 the Will County Board first approved a comprehensive plan for major capital improvement projects throughout the county. This plan included the construction of the new courthouse following the new Public Safety Complex, which was completed earlier this year.
"We began planning for this courthouse years ago and now we see the results of those plans," said Capital Improvements Committee Vice Chair Ray Tuminello (R-New Lenox). "It's our job as County Board Members to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and ensure a stable future for the next generation. I'm confident that we've done that with this building."
The new justice center was built on the former First Midwest Bank site, on the southwest corner of Ottawa and Jefferson streets in downtown Joliet. The county purchased the property in 2014. In October 2018, the county held a topping off ceremony when the final piece of steel was placed atop the building.
"Every detail was gone over during planning to ensure that future generations will continue to be served well by this courthouse," said Capital Improvements Committee Chair Herb Brooks Jr. (D-Joliet). "In addition to being on time and on budget, I'd also like to thank all of the men and women who built this building with no injuries or accidents."
The new 370,000-square-foot building cost $215 million and was designed by architecture firm Wight & Co and is a LEED certified building. In addition to the courtrooms, the courthouse will house offices for the state's attorney, the circuit clerk, and more.
"This new courthouse is part of the county's largest capital campaign in our history," said Will County Executive Denise Winfrey. "In recent years, we've opened our new Public Safety Complex, Animal Control Center, Emergency Management Center, and just this year, a new state-of-the-art Health Department."
"This new courthouse will serve the people of Will County very well for decades to come. It will ensure that justice matters are handled smoothly and efficiently inside state-of-the-art facilities," Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt said.
Circuit Court Clerk Andrea Lynn Chasteen added, "As the primary recorder of all legal proceedings and court filings in Will County, my office handles and extraordinary amount of information which will now be streamlined and more easily created and maintained thanks to our new courthouse."
As they enter the building, jurors will be greeted by a two- story lobby filled with natural light from large windows. The first floor will also have a larger jury commission room to accommodate residents called to perform their civic duty. Lower level floors will contain offices and courtrooms for high-volume courts, such as criminal misdemeanor, civil small claims, and adult probation courts. The fourth and fifth floor will hold criminal felony courts, the public defender's office, and a small cafe. Floors six and seven include high-volume family courts, the eighth and ninth floors include additional courts, and the tenth floor will hold a grand jury.