Work started Friday on demolishing the boarded-up buildings on a downtown block that is slated to be the home of the new Modesto courthouse, a roughly $262-million building with more than two dozens courtrooms, which would replace the overcrowded and outmoded downtown courthouse.
The demolition work will cost $2 million and is expected to be completed in March, according to Judicial Council of California spokesman Blaine Corren. The council is the policymaker for the state courts.
The block — which is bounded by H and G streets and Ninth and 10th streets — will be fenced off after the buildings have been demolished and the debris hauled away. The parking lots will remain, but the dirt will be graded and topped with loose gravel to keep out weeds, Corren said in an email.
The state has not yet solved a funding shortfall to build this and other courthouse projects across California. The Judicial Council decided more than a year ago to slow work on the projects as it figures out how to pay for them.
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Corren confirmed the Modesto project has funding to complete its current phase of architectural design-preliminary plans but needs to secure funding for its final two stages: working drawings and construction. He said the current phase is expected to be completed by summer.
Still, the razing of the downtown block is good news for those who complained it had become an eyesore since the tenants were relocated and the buildings boarded up more than a year ago. The site had attracted vagrants, drug use and crime, though Corren said people were no longer living in the abandoned buildings since the Judicial Council increased surveillance and security in October.
The 2.75-acre block had been the home of the Turner Building, Gervasoni’s Restaurant and several other businesses as well as a city parking lot and maintenance facility. Modesto acquired the private parcels on the block and bundled them with the parcels it owned and sold all of them to the state in December 2014 for $5.45 million for the courthouse.
A Judicial Council subcommittee is expected to review the latest designs for the project Thursday in San Francisco. The subcommittee also will review courthouse projects in Sacramento and Riverside counties.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316