Judicial Council demolishes entire block to make way for $262M courthouse amid funding shortfall

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Superior Court of California
The aging Gordon Schaber Courthouse (Superior Court of California)

Demolition of buildings on a downtown block in Modesto started on Dec. 1 to make way for a new $262-million, 538,000 sq.ft. facility that will replace the Gordon Schaber Courthouse.

This project comes amid funding shortfall for several courthouse construction projects across California. Despite lacking budget, the Judicial Council decided to push through, slowing work on projects as it figures out how to finance them.

According to council spokesman Blaine Corren, the demolition work alone for the Modesto courthouse will cost about $2 million. The site is expected to be clear of any structure by March 2018.

Corren told The Modesto Bee that the council has funding for architectural design and preliminary plans. However, it still needs to secure financing for the two final phases: working drawings and construction. He said the current phase is expected to be completed by summer of 2018.

The 2.75-ac. block where the new courthouse will stand, has elicited complaints since tenants were relocated in 2015. Empty buildings were boarded up by vagrants, drug users and criminals, forcing the Judicial Council to increase surveillance and security in October 2017. Corren said that since then, people are no longer living in the buildings.

The Turner Building, Gervasoni’s Restaurant, several other business and a city-owned maintenance facility are among the structures slated for demolition. Modesto acquired these private properties on the block, bundled them with city-owned parcels and sold the entire package to the state in December 2014 for $5.45 million.

A Judicial Council subcommittee will review updated designs for the project on Dec. 7 in San Francisco.

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