MODESTO — Modesto's long-planned courthouse construction project has dodged yet another funding threat, making it through a new and previously unexpected round of cuts.
Money to buy land downtown for the courthouse was endorsed by a state committee, Stanislaus County courts administrator Michael Tozzi announced Monday.
The Court Facilities Working Group met Friday to consider which of California's 24 planned courthouses could be eliminated.
Officials from Stanislaus County, the city of Modesto and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce wrote letters lobbying the committee to spare Modesto's courthouse.
Tozzi said those letters explained that further delays might jeopardize the state's ability to buy prime land downtown.
Court officials want to build on one of two sites: the block between Ninth and 10th streets and G and H streets, or the block between 13th and 14th streets and H and I streets, where The Bee operates.
Both those blocks are being marketed to other potential buyers, Tozzi said, and if someone else buys them "that pretty much puts an end to getting a new courthouse downtown."
Tozzi said the state's Judicial Council will meet Feb. 26 to consider the committee's recommendation. Assuming it agrees with the proposal, the state would start negotiating to buy the property this spring.
Tozzi said the state likely would reveal its site preference in March, but it might take six months to complete the purchase agreement.
State officials have spent more than two years deciding where to build in Modesto.
They plan to spend $278.3 million building an eight-story facility to replace the rundown courthouse at 800 11th St.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2196.