AUGUSTA — As the work continues on the new Kennebec County court building, less visible efforts are underway to secure the parking needed to accommodate all who use the courthouse.

The target area for the remaining 90 or so spaces needed involves four properties on Perham Street behind the Kennebec County jail.

With purchase options in hand for three of the properties, negotiations continue with Gregory Roy, a real estate agent in Brunswick who owns a multifamily building on the corner of Perham at 32 Court St.

The city of Augusta is leading those discussions, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

“We are in conversations with Mr. Roy, and we are talking about appraisals and are very optimistic we are going to be able work something out that’s fair,” Bridgeo said.

Earlier last week, Roy said he was in negotiations about the sale of his property.

“I’m interested in working with them to some degree,” he said.

Roy said two of his units are occupied by tenants and he anticipates two more units being occupied shortly.

Roy, who has owned the property since 1999, previously had listed the property for sale at $179,000 on The Maine Real Estate Network. It is no longer listed there.

In March 2011, a small fire found to be accidental forced tenants to evacuate the property, and then improvements were required by the city’s code enforcement office.

Roy’s is the closest property to the courthouse, and the front porch looks directly into the planned judges’ entrance to the four-story building.

James T. Glessner, state court administrator for the Maine Judicial Branch, said he appreciated the city’s efforts in the negotiations.

“It’s certainly to the benefit of the project,” he said.

If the negotiations fall through, he said, there is no specific contingency plan.

“We’ll see what we have and maximize the parking and do what we can,” Glessner said. “We want to provide enough spaces so people don’t have to go into the neighborhood.”

Glessner noted that the need for parking is dependent on the court’s activities on any given day. About 100 people will work in the building, according to the application submitted to the city.

The 120,000-square-foot courthouse project, being erected by Consigli Construction Co. Inc., of Portland, won approval from the city’s Planning Board in July 2012. At the time, Al Palmer, of Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers, said 93 parking spaces would be created on the site, and the courts were working with the Augusta Parking District to lease an additional 80 spaces within 1,000 feet of the building.

Bridgeo said the Augusta Parking District has been supportive of the process but is not in a financial position to buy the land.

“We’ve all been working together to try to resolve this issue,” Bridgeo said. “It goes back to when the idea of new courthouse was materializing and it was originally going to be a greenfields construction along Interstate 95. The city, the mayor, the county, particularly the county, did not like that idea at all.”

A major concern, he said, was the projected cost of transporting prisoners from the jail, which is next to the courthouse. Another was that “vacating the historic county courthouse would leave big hole in downtown Augusta,” Bridgeo said. “That a created moral obligation on the part of the city to work with court system.”

Bridgeo said other options had been considered but rejected for various reasons. Adding decks on the existing two-story parking structure on Winthrop Street would cost $20,000 to $30,000 per parking space, he said.

Asking people to walk up the steep slope of Winthrop Street from the parking garage to the courthouse also would cause problems, he said.

While the former Kennebec YMCA lot at Winthrop and State streets is vacant, Bridgeo said the owner already has made a substantial investment in the property abating hazards and razing the building. Because of the money spent on remediation, it would be too expensive to buy for use as a parking lot.

About $62 million in bonds were authorized to pay for the project as well as planning for two other courthouse construction projects.

It’s the biggest construction project undertaken by the judicial branch.

Glessner said Thursday that the Augusta building should reach the substantial completion stage by the end of the year.

“We can’t exceed the budget and can’t run over in time,” he said.

Then the court system would begin moving in furnishings and setting up work stations in anticipation of a March 2015 opening. When that occurs, a second phase of construction is to begin on the 1830 granite county courthouse. The second floor of that building, which contains a large courtroom, is to be connected to the new building by a pedestrian bridge. The bridge structure is visible now but does not yet touch the new building.

The courtroom bench will be extended to accommodate seats for all seven justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court so they can hear arguments in Augusta. Generally the court holds oral arguments in Portland, occasionally in Bangor and usually at a few high schools in the fall.

The new building will take in the Augusta District Court and some family court functions as well as clerks’ offices currently located in the county court building.

“With us vacating the first floor of the courthouse, that is going to create better space for the district attorneys,” Glessner said.

Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said the county is having Consigli evaluate parts of the existing building.

“What we’re most concerned about is the back corner toward the Winthrop Street side that needs to be repointed,” he said.

He said the county has approved some capital improvement funds for that purpose and also for some window replacement in the large courtroom.

Devlin said the additional room in the county courthouse will allow some of the district attorneys’ offices to be removed from the basement and give the county information technology some office space.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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