THE OKLAHOMAN: See what OKC's new family justice center for domestic violence survivors could look like

By Jana Hayes
Published: April 21, 2023

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Designs for a building that will replace Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center are well underway, and the project is on track to break ground at the beginning of next year.

The $38 million-dollar Palomar Family Justice Center will replace the building the nonprofit has occupied since its establishment in 2017.

Here’s everything you need to know about the project and the design update.

What is Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center?

Palomar Family Justice Center, which celebrated its 5-year anniversary last fall, provides wraparound services to survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse and human trafficking.

Palomar can help survivors with a range of things thanks to its partners hosted on-site, including criminal prosecution, forensic exams, divorce, obtaining a protective order, finding a job, housing, therapy, medical treatment and more.

Why is Palomar getting a new building?

Kim Garrett, Palomar founder and chief visionary officer, told the Oklahoma City Council in 2019 that the center’s current Midtown building on N Hudson and NW 11 was a temporary facility and was not able to fully meet the community’s needs.“We need to expand our framework and bring in more trauma services, community space, the faith-based community, cultural services and medical services,” she said in 2019.

The new building will be built directly west of the current facility.

MAPS 4 plans for Palomar are ‘trauma-informed’

With a budget of $38 million, and $4 million for a future operating fund, Palomar’s new building will have a variety of upgrades.

When clients first arrive, they will wait in a homey intake lounge to be seen.

Garrett said the entire building design is “client-centered” and “trauma-informed,” with a single street entrance for clients, plenty of natural light and connection to nature in key client spaces.

“It’s kind of like reimagining a safe home for these families,” Garrett said.

CEO says it will be ‘most impressive family justice center in North America’

Also on the first floor, there will be a community cafe where survivors can work and gain employment skills, a child sanctuary, a place for animals to be kept and an outdoor courtyard and walking path. Clients can also receive a Sexual Assault Nurse Exam or visit the Variety Care medical offices.

The second floor is largely office space for partners like the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Homeless Alliance, the YWCA, law enforcement, Legal Aid and the district attorney’s office. The third floor will have a gym, a range of therapy rooms and a community space.

Garrett also hopes to partner with local universities in offering classes on-site, to bridge the gap between academics and real-world practice of helping domestic violence survivors.

“I think it’s going to be the most impressive family justice center in North America,” Garrett said.

Some compromises were made due to increased costs

Like most MAPS 4 projects, cuts and compromises have been made thanks to the rising costs of construction, Garrett said.

One of the more disappointing cuts, Garrett said, was not being able to include a CT scan room for survivors who have been strangled to receive an exam instead of waiting hours for one at a hospital.

“I really wanted that, but it requires a six-foot foundation and some really extensive safeguards that are really expensive,” Garrett said.

The building’s footprint is also less than the originally planned 80,000 square feet, and because of that Garrett said architects are making “the rooms work harder.”

“It looks a little different than what we initially presented,” Garrett said.