JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Chief of Staff for Mayor Alvin Brown told Action News Friday night the new $350 million Duval County Courthouse won't open on time next Tuesday.
Court will be go on as it is now until Friday, June 1. After that, the city will look at contingency plans.
The latest saga over the new courthouse began when it failed a fire inspection test.
The contractor, Turner Construction, spent Thursday night testing the fire detection and suppression systems again.
While the city says the test was "partially successful," it must be completely successful in order for engineers to deem the building safe, and for JFRD to issue a "Certificate of Occupancy."
Without that certificate, the building cannot open.
Another fire system test began at 3 p.m. on Friday, but it was stopped three hours later after repeated failures. More test have been scheduled for this weekend.
The state fire marshall will also be in town this weekend. The mayor's chief of staff says local Fire Marshall Curt Wilson sent an email asking for the state fire marshall to come and help make sure the new building meets all the proper state codes. The reason is Turner Construction had to redo some of the system's plans. So now the fire chief says more things need to be approved by the state.
Action News has also learned, since the building won't open on Tuesday. Turner Construction will face financial consequences, per an agreement in the contract. While the city couldn't say how much money that means, it puts more pressure on everyone. That's why the fire chief says his crew will be working overtime this holiday weekend to get the building open.
A letter from the Office of Mayor Alvin Brown, signed by Chief of Staff Chris Hand was sent to Judge Moran, several City Council leaders, the State Attorneys Office, Duval County Clerk of Court, and the Public Defenders Office with four potential back-up plans.
It suggests reopening the old Duval County Courthouse on Bay Street; using courthouses in other counties within the district; using the Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse on North Hogan Street; or using city-owned facilities like the Prime Osborn Convention Center or the Main Library to conduct court business.
The letter from the Mayor's Office also mentioned Judge Moran's letter to the local newspaper in which the judge stated he would be willing to delay the opening of the new Duval County Courthouse from Tuesday, May 29, to Friday, June 1.
"We appreciate your recognition that additional time beyond next Tuesday may be needed to identify, implement, and certify a legal solution to the fire safety challenges," wrote Chief of Staff Chris Hand in the letter from the Office of Mayor Alvin Brown.
The potentially delayed opening is the latest controversy over the new Duval County Courthouse. Recently, Judge Moran and the city sparred over furniture for part of the courthouse. Judge Moran wanted new furniture. Mayor Alvin Brown vetoed a bill from City Council allowing for $750,000 to be spent on new furniture, only to have City Council override the veto.