Howard County Wins Three International P3 Awards For New Courthouse Project

Oct 7, 2019

The awards included Gold for ‘Best Social Infrastructure Project’, Gold for ‘Best Financial Structure’, and Silver for ‘Government Agency of the Year’

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced three P3 Award wins for the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse project. Now in its sixth year, the P3 Awards is one of the largest events in the Americas recognizing and rewarding the best in public-private partnerships (P3) from around the world. The awards were presented at The Liberty Warehouse in New York on the evening of October 3rd. The entries for the 2019 P3 Awards were judged by a panel of over 80 industry experts. Read more about the Howard County Circuit Courthouse and the partnership with Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners here.

“Our P3 Award wins prove that our County government is truly one of the best in the world. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in our new Courthouse project, helping us create innovative solutions to improve public safety, environmental sustainability, and access to justice for all,” said Ball. “As the project moves forward, our new Courthouse will usher in a new era of Howard County that will serve as a model to jurisdictions across the globe.”

Ball broke ground on the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse on June 24, 2019. The 238,000 square foot facility will be completed through the first public-private partnership in Howard County, and resolve deficiencies in the existing Courthouse, which was built 175 years ago. The project will result in an over 50% reduction of impervious surface and no existing trees will be removed, with over 100 new trees planted. The new Courthouse is scheduled to be completed in July 2021.

Gold – Best Social Infrastructure Project

The judges described the new courthouse as “a unique, one-of-a-kind project.” As the largest project in the history of the County, this was the first availability-payment structured municipal P3 to reach financial close in the United States outside of Long Beach, California. The project is a game changer for Howard County’s justice system and a model for the rest of the country. Factors that stood out during the judging process included the project’s well-structured procurement – 11 months from RFP to financial close – and innovative approaches to financing for the jurisdiction and size of the project. The project was also praised for its approach to design and sustainability. One judge commented that, “in addition to many impressive elements in terms of timing, competitive tension and design, the introduction of a new P3 counterparty at county level in P3 space and running a flexible but competitive process is a significant milestone in the United States social market.

Gold – Best Financial Structure (Social Infrastructure)

The project team was praised by the judges for “developing a workable and efficient structure” while being “creative and flexible in their approaches”. One judge commented that the size of the deal likely proved challenging given the financing approach. However, the innovative use of an interest rate swap reduced risk exposure opening up the project to a larger pool of lenders and driving competitive tension.

Silver – Government Agency of the Year

“Howard County’s impressive submission provides a step-by-step ‘how to’ guide for successfully executing a jurisdiction’s first P3,” said one judge. Another commented that, Howard County’s accomplishments deserve all the recognition in light of the lack of jurisdictions pursuing P3s in the United States and the uneven rate of success in completing P3s by those jurisdictions that choose to pursue the P3 model. The judging panel praised the entry for demonstrating the great lengths that Howard County went to prepare for the solicitation and involve all decision makers in the process. “This is a model process and the pre-work really paid off with an efficient and speedy procurement process,” said one judge. Other factors that stood out during the judging process were how the owner engaged stakeholders, benefited from lessons learned from other owners and used good precedent documents to complete the procurement in 11 months. “They really did their homework,” said one judge.