FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CHIEF JUDGE JUDITH KAYE CUT RIBBON ON NEW CRIMINAL SUPREME AND FAMILY COURT COMPLEX IN BROOKLYN
New State-of-the-Art Facility is Largest Courthouse in New York State; $42 Million Committed to Upgrade Two Other Brooklyn Court Buildings
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye today cut the ribbon on the new Criminal Supreme and Family Court complex in Brooklyn. The new $670 million facility, located at 330 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, is the largest courthouse in New York State and will consolidate all of Brooklyn's Criminal Supreme and Family Courts. It stands thirty-two stories high, contains eighty-four courtrooms, and has a large parking garage for court personnel. The Mayor and Judge Kaye also announced the commitment of $42 million to upgrade the Criminal Court building at 120 Schermerhorn Street and the Supreme Court, Civil Term courthouse at 360 Adams Street. They were joined at the announcement by New York State Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein, Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt, Economic Development Corporation President Andrew Alper, and Forest City Ratner President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce C. Ratner.
"Prior to the opening of the new courthouse at 330 Jay Street, Brooklyn's courthouses were outdated, in disrepair and inadequately served the county's needs," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This new state-of-the-art building gives Brooklyn the top-notch court facility it deserves for its Criminal Supreme and Family Courts. We're also committing an additional $42 million to upgrade the Criminal Court building at 120 Schermerhorn and the Supreme Court, Civil Term courthouse at 360 Adams. When we're finished, Brooklyn will have a full complement of court facilities that rank among the very best in the country."
"I am thrilled to celebrate today the inauguration of this expansive new courthouse - the largest in New York State - for Supreme Court and Family Court in Brooklyn," said Chief Judge Kaye. "It is a shining example of what court facilities should be - clean, modern, professional surroundings that inspire respect for the law and reflect the gravity of the business conducted within. On behalf of the Judiciary and all New Yorkers, I want to thank the Mayor for his support in making this long-awaited day a reality, as well as for the commitment of additional monies to upgrade the civil and criminal courts in this borough in the future."
Construction of the new courthouse began in 2001. Its doors opened in July, 2005 and it is now fully operational. The courthouse provides much needed space for Brooklyn's Criminal Supreme and Family Courts. Family Courts alone have seen an eight-fold increase in caseload over the past fifty years. The new building's courtrooms are enhanced with state-of-the-art technology to facilitate trials including advanced audio-visual equipment for the display of evidence, teleconferencing capability so that prisoners can make appearances remotely from Rikers Island, and will soon have wireless internet capability allowing lawyers to do online research while awaiting court appearances. The courthouse also houses the county's Integrated Domestic Violence Court, where one judge hears all aspects of domestic violence matters, bringing together the functions of the Family, Criminal, and Supreme Courts within one courtroom. It also houses one of the country's largest drug treatment courts.
In addition to housing all of the county's Family Court and Criminal Supreme court parts, 330 Jay Street will also accommodate offices of several City and State agencies including Corporation Counsel, Health & Hospitals Corporation, Departments of Probation and Correction, Police Department, Administration for Children's Services, State Office of Children and Family Services and Department of Juvenile Justice. The new building will also house a number of not-for-profit corporations that provide ancillary services to the courts including Safe Horizon, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Community Mediation. By having all of these organizations under one roof, the county's residents will have easier access to services.
"After decades of hardship, the courts in Brooklyn finally have a suitable home for the nearly 6,000 court users who enter their doors daily," said Chief Administrative Judge Lippman. "This spacious new building will allow for maximum efficiency of court operations and will ensure the kind of dignified environment families and the public deserve. I would like to join the Chief Judge in expressing my gratitude to the City for their continued support and cooperation in providing New Yorkers with decent, proper court facilities befitting the administration of justice."
"When we began this project, we were excited to be given the opportunity to work with our city to help set an example of what it means when socially conscience corporations like ours work hard to improve the cities where we do business," said Bruce Ratner. "The completion and success of this project is proof-positive that when the public and private sector work together, good things can happen. Fifteen years ago, Brooklyn's community, academic, government and corporate leaders decided it was time to plot a new course for our borough. We have witnessed a technological rebirth where we stand today. Beginning with the redevelopment of PolyTech University; the addition of MetroTech to the local landscape, and now the completion of the most technologically-advanced courthouse in the state."
$42 Million to Upgrade Two Other Court Buildings
The Mayor and Judge Kaye also announced the commitment of $42 million to upgrade two other court buildings in Brooklyn. Consolidating all of Brooklyn's Criminal Supreme Court justices into 330 Jay Street makes it easier for the public to gain access to the court system, and also makes it possible to begin renovations on the Criminal Court building at 120 Schermerhorn Street and the Supreme Court, Civil Term courthouse at 360 Adams Street.The City's Department of Design and Construction will manage the renovations, which will include an upgrade to the electrical system and the renovation of the building's 35 courtrooms to improve lighting, acoustics and comfort at 120 Schermerhorn, and reconfiguring and improving the public space and the Supreme Civil Court at 360 Adams. Architects are expected to begin the design process in April, with work commencing in late 2006. These renovations will complete the City's planned upgrades to all Brooklyn court facilities.
"The City and State's commitment to upgrading these facilities has already resulted in a more efficient, hi-tech, and improved professional environment for all who work in the courthouse," said District Attorney Hynes. "The citizens of Brooklyn, jurors, attorneys, victims and their families are better served by these beautiful surroundings. We look forward, with confidence that the commitment to continued improvements will even further the services we are able to provide to the residents of Brooklyn."
"This beautiful new state-of-the-art court complex is further proof of Downtown Brooklyn's renaissance," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "It reflects respect for all those who seek recourse to our legal system."
The new courthouse was developed through a unique public-private partnership between the City's Economic Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner. The building was built as a commercial condominium with the City originally leasing and then exercising its option to buy the court portion of the building. Under this agreement, Forest City Ratner will retain the top five floors for private use.
"I'm pleased EDC played a part in creating this spectacular new addition to Downtown Brooklyn, highlighting the exciting transformation taking place in one of the City's fastest growing neighborhoods," said EDC President Alper. "With state-of-the art courtrooms and new space for commercial tenants, this building coincides with a variety of projects that will bring office space, parkland and residential development to the area. Our partnership with Forest City Ratner is testament to the strength of the public and private sectors working together for the benefit of the City."
Edward Skyler/Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
Mai Yee (Office of Court Administration) (212) 428-2505
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