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Construction expected to start next month on long-awaited downtown Modesto courthouse

The Modesto Bee logoThe Modesto Bee 10/22/2021 Kevin Valine, The Modesto Bee

Oct. 22—Construction on the long-awaited courthouse in downtown Modesto is expected to start in mid-November and be completed in fall 2024, according to a Thursday news release from the California Judicial Council.

"We are excited that Stanislaus County will finally have a courthouse worthy of the court's mission," Stanislaus County Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Westbrook said in the release. "The new building will reflect the dignity and seriousness of our task — to administer justice for all who enter its doors."

The new eight-story courthouse will take up the city block bounded by G and H streets and Ninth and 10th streets. It will replace the outdated and overcrowded courthouse along 11th Street between H and I streets.

The nearly 309,000-square-foot courthouse will cost $340.5 million, according to a recent PowerPoint presentation from Stanislaus County Superior Court, and have 27 courtrooms.

The building will bring under one roof all of the court's operations, including civil and probate, criminal, family law, juvenile, small claims and traffic. The Stanislaus County Superior Court now operates in five facilities.

For instance, small claims matters now are heard in Turlock, and traffic cases are handled at a Floyd Avenue court facility in east Modesto.

The California Department of Finance "last week approved the request for the construction contract award (for the new courthouse), giving the green light to start building," according to the Judicial Council news release. "The Judicial Council expects to finalize the contract next month, start construction in mid-November, and complete the building by fall 2024."

The Judicial Council is the policymaking body for the state courts.

Modesto and Superior Court officials have pursued a new courthouse for more than a decade. City officials see the new facility as an important piece in their continuing effort to revitalize downtown.

"I was thrilled to hear the project is moving forward and know that it will help with the judicial process as well as improve our downtown area," Mayor Sue Zwahlen said in a text message.

City and county officials also are interested in the redevelopment of the old courthouse, which is owned by the county and state. Some of the ideas that have been considered include housing and mixed-use development of housing, offices and stores.

Bee Staff Writer Erin Tracy contributed to this report.

This story was originally published October 22, 2021 5:00 AM.


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