AUGUSTA — In another step forward for a new courthouse in Kennebec County, the state finalized its purchase Monday of the former Crisis & Counseling Centers Inc. property at Winthrop and Perham streets.

The $1.65 million purchase price was financed by a bond issue through the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority on behalf of the Maine Judicial Branch.

“Two weeks ago, we closed on the first of what will be two bond sales to fund the project,” said Robert Lenna, the authority’s executive director.

The $33 million in 20-year bonds was sold to Bank of America, which was the lowest of three bidders at 4 percent.

Lenna said a total bond issue of $62 million bond was authorized. But another issue won’t be offered until the project cost is finalized.

“It may be they won’t need the full amount,” Lenna said. “That’s why we didn’t do the whole thing now. It may be they get lower bids for the construction.”

The Crisis & Counseling facility is to be demolished by late spring 2012, said Mary Ann Lynch, director of court information.

Since buying the property for 735,000 in 2000, Crisis & Counseling had occupied a 41,000-square-foot building on three floors, including a tunnel connection to the former home of The Copy Center at 27 Court St.
City records show the building and land are valued at more than $1 million.

The bonds are tax-exempt lease-appropriation, as opposed to general obligation bonds which pledge the full faith and credit of the state of Maine.

Lenna said lease-appropriation bonds were chosen “because the money is going to be used for a public purpose, i.e., to build a courthouse.”

The bonds carry an assertion that the judicial branch will receive enough money in its budget to pay the debt service every two years, Lenna said.

Lenna said all three bids came in with rates ranging from 4 to 4.3 percent.

“The interest rate in (the) tax-exempt market is as low as it’s ever been,” Lenna said.

In October 2009, Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley proposed a $55 million new building to include consolidated superior and district courts and offices, and temporary space for courts and personnel while construction is under way.

The completed courthouse is to be designed to combine Kennebec County Superior Court and Augusta District Court, with a connector to the existing historic structure.

It will also house Family Court and administrative office functions which are now in leased space just off Stone Street.

Technology specialists currently based out of the Maine Judicial Center, at 65 Stone St., will also be brought into the new facility.

Crisis & Counseling, which runs clinical programs at eight locations and provides 24-hour mobile crisis response in Kennebec and Somerset counties, relocated its operations to Caldwell Road, on the east side of Augusta, in September.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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