DUE TO SUPER TYPHOON YUTU’S DESTRUCTION

Target completion date moved to early next year

‘Construction of US courthouse building moving along quite well’

Construction proceeds apace at the state-of-the-art U.S. Courthouse building in Gualo Rai. Super Typhoon Yutu’s devastation somehow delayed the project’s completion. The new completion target is early next year instead of this November. The groundbreaking that marked the start of the construction was held in December 2017. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Construction work on the U.S. Courthouse building in Gualo Rai is now expected to be completed in the early part of next year.

In an interview last Friday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona Super Typhoon Yutu’s devastation last October forced the contractor to move the original target deadline this year.

Despite this, she said construction of the new federal courthouse building is moving along quite well.

“We are hoping to be able to open ] next spring. So hopefully by March of next year—March 2020,” Manglona said.

The original target completion date was this November but, because of Super Typhoon Yutu, the contractor could not meet that deadline.

Manglona said they are very pleased with the progress of the construction and are hoping to get the keys by early next year so they can move to the new building.

Manglona said there is no issue with lack of construction workers as the Guam contractor, Future World Corp. (Guam), has been able to provide the necessary manpower.

The groundbreaking to mark the construction of the project was held in December 2017.

U.S. General Services Administration awarded a 20-year lease to Marianas Management Corp. for the construction of the building. The lease will cost approximately $2.4 million annually.

MMS is a subsidiary of Joeten Enterprises Inc.

The project is composed of a 53,000 square-foot, three-story courthouse with a basement, and two adjoining commercial buildings.

The building will include one courtroom, two judges’ chambers, a jury assembly room and office space for building tenants.

District Court chief deputy clerk Bill Bezzant said yesterday that due to construction budget constraint, the courthouse will only fit the U.S. District Court, U.S. Probation Office, U.S. Marshal Service, and U.S. Attorney.

Bezzant said the other tenants of the Horiguchi Building (the Drug Enforcement Administration, Coast Guard, former Department of the Interior) will either remain in the Horiguchi building or will move elsewhere on Saipan.

He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and other federal agencies have existing office space elsewhere and will remain in their existing offices throughout Saipan.

The District Court has been leasing office spaces at the Horiguchi building in Garapan since 1991. In the wake of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, a federal assessment board determined that the current courthouse is the least safe in the nation. As a result, GSA decided to build a new federal building on Saipan.

The first District Court on Saipan was opened in 1978 at the Saipan InterContinental Hotel, now the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan. The District Court moved to the Nauru Building in Susupe, now the Marianas Business Plaza, and then to the Horiguchi building.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com
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