The final installment of $7.3 million needed to move the moldy Fourth District Court of Appeal courthouse to downtown West Palm Beach appeared set Saturday in an early and easy budget deal between House and Senate negotiators.
The agreement emerged as House and Senate conferees began work on crafting a new spending plan for the year beginning July 1. House budget chief Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has been generally cool to the big courthouse move, but it was his side that quickly endorsed the Senate’s pitch for funding.
The 4th DCA hears appeals from Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties. It’s looking to relocate from Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard in West Palm Beach to a new building planned between Clematis Street and Datura Street, east of Tamarind Avenue.
Senate President-designate Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has been championing the project and had tucked about $6 million in the Senate budget for the courthouse move. But the project had been ignored by the House in its roughly $80 billion budget blueprint.
After a larger-than-expected $12 million was set-aside last year, county and court officials had been banking on the final round being eased by Negron’s expanding influence as an incoming Senate boss. Saturday’s swift action may have affirmed that.
An extreme mold infestation forced the courthouse’s closure for a while in 2013 and the facility — built in 1970 — is widely seen as more vintage Perry Mason than ready for the Law & Order era.