Taj Mahal timeline: How a $50-million courthouse can be built with little notice
In an extraordinary case of collective amnesia, nobody can quite remember just how it happened. As the country headed toward the worst recession in years, the Florida Legislature handed $50 million to judges to build a courthouse now branded the Taj Mahal.
The building that opens to the public Monday began as a request to spend up to $20,000 to determine if a floor could be added to the existing courthouse. Over the next four years — often in secret — it turned into a building fit for royalty and a multimillion dollar debt taxpayers will pay down for 30 years. The story of the Taj Mahal is told in documents — e-mail, minutes of court conferences and building committee meetings, and a trove of other records. It's remarkable for the over-the-top details — like the soundproofing in the judge's individual bathrooms — but mostly it's the way things get done in Tallahassee.