Last week, the first notices went up around Hunter Square, signaling the start of construction on San Joaquin County’s new $272 million, 13 story courthouse. If everything goes according to plan, the courthouse should be open for business in mid-2016. The new building will replace the existing county courthouse directly to the east, which is presently operating at maximum capacity. The current building has been much maligned, with overcrowding and dangerous conditions leading to high-profile security incidents (not to mention also being dubbed one of Stockton’s ugliest buildings by SCL).
The new courthouse should be a big upgrade, with 30 courtrooms, upgraded security features and a jury duty waiting room that isn’t a dungeon. And with LEED Gold standards, the building will also be fairly green, featuring solar panels, low-flow fixtures and drought-resistant landscaping, among other things.
When completed, the new courthouse will be Stockton’s tallest building floors-wise, eclipsing the 12-story Medico-Dental Building just a few blocks away. The architecture firm NBBJ, who designed the building, writes that the courthouse will establish “a magnificent civic presence on the Stockton skyline.”
The courthouse will be built atop Hunter Square, which has played an important role in Stockton’s history. Originally donated to the city by Charles Weber, the square was the site of many historical events, including the 1857 California State Fair. In prior incarnations, the plaza was home to an artesian well-powered fountain, and later a granite drinking fountain known as the “Mail Fountain.” The current plaza was constructed in 1967 as part of the city’s West End Renewal project and today plays host to the downtown farmer’s market.
While Hunter Square will be no more, current plans include new public space on the site of the current courthouse, which will be demolished. This new space will include a water fountain feature as well as an “80-foot long art wall” that will showcase “historic scenes from Stockton’s past.” In addition to these new features, there is hope that the spire featured on Hunter Square’s fountain can be salvaged and reused in the new plaza to some extent. Plans also call for an eventual underground parking lot beneath the plaza.
The $272 million price tag is covered by state court funds from court fees, penalties and assessments, and does not tap into the general funds of the city, county or state.
For more renderings of the new courthouse, see below.
New San Joaquin Courthouse Facts:
Square feet: 306,000
Cost: approximately $272.9 million (in 2011 dollars)
Expected completion: mid-2016
Funding: the California State Court Facilities Construction Fund
Construction firm: Turner Construction