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Speeches And Smiles As Lawmakers Break Ground For New Federal Courthouse

Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
Mayor Ron Nirenberg (from left), County Judge Nelson Wolff, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, U.S Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Federal Judge Xavier Rodriguez, and U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Lloyd Doggett, Joaquin Castro, Will Hurd and Chip Roy.

Local, state and federal officials stood together at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new federal courthouse in downtown San Antonio on Monday.

Federal Judge Xavier Rodriguez spearheaded the bipartisan project to replace the current courthouse, which is located in the former U.S. Pavilion, a movie theater used during HemisFair ‘68.

“Actual ground will break here by the end of the month,” Rodriguez said. "We’re gonna be substantially complete by December 2021 and occupancy thereafter....an early Christmas present, if I’m lucky.”

The U.S. General Services Administration reports construction could run into early 2022.

The new $117 million facility will sit on 6.3 acres at the corner of West Nueva and Santa Rosa and will house federal judges, magistrates, attorneys, and marshals for the Western District of Texas.

The new courthouse will have eight courtrooms and 13 chambers, and tenant agencies will also include the GSA.

U.S. Marshal and former Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said the new courthouse will feature better security features, compared to the cramped John H. Wood, Jr. Federal Courthouse.

“Even elevators are shared by prisoners, judges, jurors ... and so this provides the state-of-the-art security and all the things we need.” Pamerleau said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff thanked Rodriguez and members of the local congressional delegation for their bipartisan efforts to make the new courthouse a reality.

Wolff reminded the crowd it is just part of the major revitalization for the West Side of downtown, including new buildings for the University of Texas at San Antonio, which will offer data science, cyber security and business classes.

The San Pedro Creek Culture Park will be the backdrop for much of the revitalization, running from near I-35 and Santa Rosa Avenue in the north to the confluence of the Alazan and Apache Creeks to the south.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Henry Cuellar, Joaquin Castro and Will Hurd also spoke at the groundbreaking, where hundreds of attendees gathered under a giant white tent.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.