Plans to build a massive new courthouse at 10th and H streets in downtown Modesto may have hit another snag. Theres an issue over which government agency owns land on that block, and the matter may take months to resolve.
Modesto officials say the states Department of Finance is refusing to expedite the citys request to shift ownership of the property from the citys defunct redevelopment agency to the city. Until the city gets clear title to that land, it cant sell the property to the states court system.
The delay could impact the success of the property transaction with the state, Brent Sinclair warned in July when explaining why expediting the land transfer was necessary. Sinclair is Modestos director of community and economic development and has been overseeing the courthouse deal.
We are going to stay the course, Sinclair said Monday, responding to questions about what the delayed land transfer might mean for the courthouse.
Courthouse plans already are years behind schedule. The states Administrative Office of the Courts wants to build a $277.2 million facility on the block between Ninth and 10th streets and between H and G streets.
The city owns part of that block, and Modestos old redevelopment agency owned another chunk.
California eliminated all its redevelopment agencies last year, and it still is figuring out what to do with land those dissolved agencies once owned. Modesto officials want the RDA property at 10th and H to be transferred to the city. But they must convince the states Department of Finance thats the right thing to do.
In July, the Oversight Board of the City of Modesto Redevelopment Successor Agency approved a resolution asking for that land to be immediately transferred to the city. State finance officials, however, apparently dont see the need to expedite that transfer.
So instead, Sinclair said, the land transfer will be considered as part of the RDAs long-term property-management plan, which will be submitted to the state this month. How long state finance officials will take to approve that plan isnt known.
State court officials, meanwhile, say theyre accustomed to dealing with construction delays.
We have authority to complete site acquisition for this project, said Teresa Ruano, the court systems spokeswoman. She said a delay in buying the Modesto property likely would not jeopardize the land deal. Its not a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing, as long as theres progress.
Ruano noted that construction still has not started on San Joaquin Countys proposed courthouse, which was authorized in 2007. She said acquiring Stockton land took years longer than expected, which is why the new courthouse wont be finished before 2016.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2196.