New San Joaquin County Courthouse construction to begin

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).

New courthouse, looking west down Weber Avenue. (c/o NBBJ)

New courthouse, looking west down Weber Avenue. (c/o NBBJ)

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.

There is hope that the spire atop the Hunter Square’s fountain can be reused when the new plaza is built on the site of the current courthouse.

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:

Stories: 13

Square feet: 306,000

Cost: approximately $272.9 million (in 2011 dollars)

Expected completion: mid-2016

Funding: the California State Court Facilities Construction Fund

Courtrooms: 30

Architect: NBBJ

Construction firm: Turner Construction 

The 12th floor will include a jury duty terrace (c/o NBBJ)

The 12th floor will include a jury duty terrace (c/o NBBJ)

Courthouse entrance opening up to Weber Ave. (c/o NBBJ)

Courthouse entrance opening up to Weber Ave. (c/o NBBJ)

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Categories: Development News

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia created SCL in March of 2012. Garcia is a Stockton native with a background in urban policy and planning, holding a Bachelor's Degree from UCLA as well as a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. He currently serves as the Policy Director at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. David was also COO at Ten Space, a real estate development firm focused exclusively on Downtown Stockton, and continues to advise on their projects. Prior to that, he worked three years as a researcher/analyst for a Congressional research agency in Washington, DC. The views expressed on this site are entirely of the author's

4 Comments on “New San Joaquin County Courthouse construction to begin”

  1. Jon Seisa
    December 11, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Aesthetically, though, I just lament how the propose structure is an unimaginative angular post-and-lintel boxy-rectangular design. In this Modern Age of magnificent curvilinear architecture, the New Wave, the design is already out of date before it’s constructed. They should have, at the very least, integrated some sort of sweeping curvilinear element or a slanted roof to an apex to offset the boxy-ness. To me it just looks like the typical 80s condominiums on the Whilshire Corridor in LA.

    But at the least it’s something new in way of high-rises for Stockton’s skyline—– finally.

  2. Anthony
    December 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    I agree Jon, not the most striking building but I’d have to see the exact materials used. Hey, let’s be happy there are windows for maximum natural lighting, an upper-level veranda overlooking…(???), and what looks like a four-story atrium…not bad at all for Stockton! Still, it’s a terrible shame the old courthouse will go to waste. I’ve already said much about what could be done without demolishing the dated building but it wouldn’t matter. Hopefully the City of Stockton will continue to modernize it’s overall urban-design aesthetic. I really like the idea of cities using design and art as a tool to create wonderful permanent and temporary structures that bring people together and encourages dialog within the small design community; it creates a buzz and gives the community pride. The construction of the new plaza could very well be a new focal point of urban greening and place-making, bringing a unique experience to greater Stockton. But I won’t get my hope’s too high, I’ll wait to see the design.

    • Jon Seisa
      December 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      Hopefully, the new Hunter Plaza will not be a stark minimalist design, like a mundane penitentiary courtyard, or something (holding breath)… someone’s skewed idea of ‘Modernism’, leaving people completely devoid of any remote inspiration. I’m literally waiting for the other shoe to drop—THUMP!

      Let’s pray ***desperately*** for the best outcome.

      Here are samples of the new harmonious curvilinear architecture that the courthouse design is sadly missing the boat on… you can tell from these images that the planned and approved design is already passe, and a disappointment stuck in the early 21st Century…

  3. bill
    October 31, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    WOW – talk about out of touch. Arguing about “aesthetics”??? This courthouse is the biggest crime story in Stockton’s history. And example of Parkinson’s Law. We’re spending 272 million , when according to Dan Cort, we could rehab for 1/8 the cost ————> 34 million. State-wide we’re squandering billions. … see at 30:30 – the JC Penneys rehab is the paradigm – it’s cheap, and put idle space back in production. … AOC-OCCM is crooked.

    The real world – have any of the commenters been to court? Know how long it takes?
    How f’d up and victimizing it is to have things drag out for years. Justice delayed is justice denied. People get beaten by delays, not facts. Do we overlook it to have pretty buildings?
    1. Courts have been closing … budgets are slashed. Judges are asking to use the construction money to keep the courts running. See Judge Horan’s ltte.

    Closing the courts vs. building new ones

    I write in response to the recent letter by Associate Justice Richard Huffman criticizing Judge Daniel Goldstein’s suggestion that the Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts consider temporarily reallocating courthouse construction funds to trial court operations to prevent further court closures. Justice Huffman asserted that the proposal was somehow illegal, and he seemed quite critical of Judge Goldstein. I must disagree with Justice Huffman.

    As your readers may know, Justice Huffman and the other members of the Judicial Council recently voted to adopt the plan to shut down all courts in California one day per month. What they may not know is that Justice Huffman and the other members of the council (excluding one member from Los Angeles) recently voted to continue to dump hundreds of millions of dollars into a troubled statewide computer system that published reports indicate will cost at least $2 billion, despite our inability to keep the courts open to the public. This amount equates to over $1 million per state judge.

    They also may not know that many on the council favor floating $6 billion in construction bonds at a time when California is steeped in debt. It is against this backdrop that Goldstein reasonably proposed giving local courts control over using scarce funds to keep courts open rather than to build new courthouses.

    Do you know judges worked furlough days for FREE to keep things from collapsing(more)?

    Palais du welfare, Palais du transit, Palais du SJ County. And now a Palais du (IN) Justice.
    That’s Stockton. Extravagant spending bleeding the government white while basic needs go without. In a downtown full of empty buildings needing rehab. White cane oversight. Disgusting.

    This project is like buying a Rolls when you don’t have gas money. More’s the pity when it
    happens in Stockton with it’s woeful financial situation. We deserve the bad stuff that happens here if we don’t make better decisions. We’re not only bankrupt financially , but bankrupt in common sense.

    I actually had people tell me we needed to replace the old courthouse because “the jury room is dark”. So you spend $272 million to fix that problem???


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