Hawaii County prosecutors will have to wait a couple more months before they can move into their new home at the West Hawaii Civic Center.
The $14 million Office of the Prosecuting Attorney is now nine months behind schedule and Hawaii County officials expect that contractor Isemoto Contracting Ltd. will not be finished with work until March.
Construction began in May 2018, and initially the project was supposed to be completed a year later, in time for prosecutors to move prior to the opening of the Keahuolu Courthouse last fall.
As of late last week, however, the project was 80% complete, according to the Hawaii County Department of Public Works. That’s about 30% further along since the last update in August 2019 when the contractor had indicated to the county it planned to complete work in November.
Isemoto, according to Denise Laitinen, Public Works spokeswoman, still needs to complete interior finishes (painting, flooring and ceiling), cabinetry and furnishing, parking lot paving, signage, striping and exterior soffit, and landscaping and irrigation work.
When questioned about the additional delay, Laitinen provided the same update from August.
“All things considered, this project would normally take two years, however it was expedited to be completed in one year to coincide with that of the Keahuolu Judiciary/Courthouse project. While there were some minor design changes in the project, work has been ongoing the entire time period. The over-all building design complexity has challenged the contractor to keep on track for the expedited project completion,” she said via email.
Laitenen said the county plans to seek recourse for the delay in meeting the completion deadline.
“The project has liquidated damages provisions and the contractor is fully aware that the County of Hawaii will implement this in the project’s final billing,” she said.
Currently located in Kealakekua, the Kona prosecutor’s office encompasses about 8,500 square feet of leased space for its 30 prosecutors and staff. The new building will be two stories and increase the square footage available to 15,761 square feet. It’s designed to meet the community’s needs through the year 2033.
Until the office is ready for occupancy, staff will continue to make the dozen-or-so-mile commute from their South Kona office to the Keahuolu Courthouse in Kailua-Kona, and/or utilize space designated for prosecutors at courthouse.