Initial Funding Year: FY 2007-2008
The new courthouse will house 30 courtrooms in what is expected to be a 12-story building. In September 2009, culminating years of effort by the Court, City, County, local community, and the Judicial Council staff, the state Public Works Board approved the acquisition of a site in downtown Stockton: Hunter Square Plaza, adjacent to the current courthouse at 222 East Weber Avenue. The site was donated by the City of Stockton.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
Judicial Council staff are responsible for the environmental impact report (EIR) to comply with CEQA.
July 21, 2008 to August 20, 2008: Notice of Preparation and Initial Study circulated.
July 30, 2008: Public scoping meeting held.
January 23, 2009 to March 9, 2009: Draft EIR circulated.
February 19, 2009: Public meeting held.
May 7, 2009 to June 22, 2009: Revised Draft EIR circulated.
After receiving public comments on both documents, the council staff completed a Final Environmental Impact Report (4.3 MB)
Public Comments Part 1 (3.7 MB)
Public Comments Part 2 (3.5 MB)
Appendices A-G (4.1 MB)
Appendix H (4.2 MB)
The Final Initial Study includes stakeholder comments, council staff responses to comments, changes to the environmental impact report, and other information.
On August 10, 2009, council staff filed a Notice of Determination, completing the CEQA process.
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Architect's rendering of New Stockton Courthouse
Progress report from 2009 (3:00)
Construction Manager at Risk
The New San Joaquin Courthouse in Stockton is in construction, with an expected completion date of fourth quarter FY 2017-2018.
Why do we need a new courthouse?
San Joaquin County is one of the most diverse and fastest-growing counties in California, due to people relocating from the Bay Area. The Superior Court of San Joaquin County in downtown Stockton serves residents through three branch facilities, a Juvenile Justice Center in French Camp, and the downtown courthouse and nearby administrative annex. The Court shares the courthouse and the annex with the County. Constructed in 1963, the downtown courthouse and annex are overcrowded, in poor physical condition, and have significant accessibility and security deficiencies, hindering the court’s ability to adequately deliver services to county residents.
What is the plan for the new courthouse?
The new downtown Stockton Courthouse will be located at 180 East Weber Avenue, directly across the street from the current courthouse on historic Hunter Square Plaza. The new 13-story facility will house 30 courtrooms—two of which will be shelled out for future use—in 310,443 square feet of space, consolidating court operations from the current courthouse and annex into one modern facility. With all court services under one roof, the new courthouse will become a one-stop location for county residents. However, juvenile proceedings will remain at the Juvenile Justice Center in French Camp, which is also being remodeled and expanded.
When completed, the new courthouse will eliminate severe overcrowding and provide adequate space for court services, administration, and increased security operations, with a secure sallyport for the transportation of in-custody detainees. It will be the tallest building in Stockton—an anchor in the City’s plan to establish a civic presence in the downtown area. The new facility’s expansive front plaza will have a large water feature and an 80-foot art wall, illustrating historic scenes from Stockton’s past, just outside the entrance to the three-story glass lobby. The spire on the current Hunter Square fountain will be salvaged by the County and eventually incorporated into an extended plaza. Clad in natural stone, the building’s exterior will convey a sense of permanence and judicial dignity. The design for the new courthouse was recognized for excellence by the American Institute of Architects’ Academy of Architecture for Justice.
Was renovation considered before the plan to build a new courthouse was decided on?
The current courthouse and nearby administrative annex are about half the size needed to accommodate the Court’s existing and future operating requirements. The current courthouse lacks adequate space to serve the needs of a growing population and is considered one of the state’s most decrepit and unsafe buildings. The two downtown facilities have many other functional, efficiency, and security challenges. Examples:
Who is the Judicial Council, and why are they managing this project?
The Judicial Council is the policymaking body for the California court system, including the trial courts, known as “Superior Courts,” based in each county. Among other responsibilities, the council—through its Capital Program office—is responsible for planning, acquisition, design, renovation, and construction of court facilities. The new courthouse will be owned by the judicial branch.
For more information about the Judicial Council, refer to:
How has the local community had input regarding the courthouse project?
The Project Advisory Group is the main source of ongoing community input to the project. This broad-based group includes members from the the City and County, justice partners including the District Attorney’s office and the Public Defender’s office, the business community, and the Superior Court. Members include:
In addition, the California Environmental Quality Act process enabled the public to review and comment on the environmental report before it was finalized.
What will happen to the current courthouse when the new courthouse is completed?
The County owns the current courthouse and administrative annex. It plans to demolish the two facilities, and given the funding, build an extensive plaza on the current site with eventual underground parking.
Who is the construction manager at risk on the project?
In business for more than 100 years, Turner Construction has completed numerous public and private construction projects throughout the country and around the world. The company has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Best Design Build Project of the Year, Austin VA Outpatient Clinic, from the Associated General Contractors of Texas, and the 2013 Number One Contractor and Number One Green Contractor, from Engineering News-Record.
How was the contractor selected?
Through its staff, the Judicial Council uses a construction manager at risk (CMAR) for delivery of projects such as the new Stockton Courthouse. The CMAR method entails a commitment to deliver the project within a guaranteed maximum price. The competitive selection process factors in qualitative criteria, such as the firm’s experience, as well as the contractor’s fee. The CMAR is retained early in the project for preconstruction services. Following a competitive bid for all subcontractors and the approval to award, the CMAR becomes the general contractor for the project. Selection criteria for the project CMAR includes an evaluation of the firm’s plan for outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms are fully aware of the bidding opportunity, process, and timeline. For this competitive selection, council staff conducted interviews with several qualified firms, from which Turner Construction was selected.
What are the key milestones in building the courthouse?
When will the courthouse be completed and operational?
Construction started in May 2014; the courthouse is scheduled for completion in fourth quarter 2017. This schedule is subject to change.
What are the Judicial Council's policies with regard to local hiring and purchasing during design and construction? How will members of the public find out about these opportunities?
Once bonds are sold for this project and it is ready to be put out to bid, the construction manager at risk will become the general contractor on the project. Prior to the project going into construction, the contractor will conduct an outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms are fully aware of the bidding opportunity, process, and timeline. All qualified subcontractors, lower-tier subcontractors, and suppliers will be considered.
What is the location of the new courthouse?
The new courthouse will be located on a one-acre site in historic Hunter Square Plaza.
What was the process used to select the site?
Judicial Council staff worked closely with the Superior Court and with the Project Advisory Group, which includes judges, court staff, representatives from city and county government, justice partners, and the business community, to determine the preferred and alternate sites. Staff followed a standard site selection policy and process. The process involved objectively evaluating potential sites and selecting at least two sites that met agreed-upon criteria for the proposed new courthouse in providing access to justice for Stanislaus County, within the confines of the project’s budget and schedule. A cost reduction subcommittee of the Court Facilities Advisory Committee, which oversees the court construction program statewide, directed the project team to pursue the city block bounded by G and H Streets and 9th and 10th Streets in downtown Modesto as the preferred site. The presiding judge signed off on the preferred and alternate site, and the site selection was approved by the council's Administrative Director and the State Public Works Board.
Why does the Judicial Council decide where the new court is built? Why isn't this a county decision?
Historically, trial courts functioned largely as county departments, but that changed in 2002, with passage of the Trial Court Facilities Act. This law made the State of California responsible for court facilities statewide, rather than the counties. The law gave the Judicial Council responsibility for facilities owned or occupied by the courts and made it responsible for operations, maintenance, and repairs, as well as site acquisition, planning, design, and construction of capital projects that replace or renovate courthouses. Council staff work closely with each affected Superior Court and justice agency stakeholders throughout the process of replacing or renovating courthouses. By Rules of Court, staff involve the public primarily through the Project Advisory Group, although depending on the needs of the project, public input may be sought at various stages.
What environmental review was completed for the project? Who is the lead agency
Council staff are responsible for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In July, 2008, a scoping meeting was held for the public to review and comment on the initial environmental study. In February, 2009, a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was circulated and another meeting was held for public comment. This was followed in May 2009 by a revised Draft EIR. After receiving public comments on both documents, council staff completed a Final EIR, which included stakeholder comments, council staff responses to comments, changes to the environmental impact report, and other information. On August 10, 2009, staff filed a Notice of Determination, completing the CEQA process.
Will the new building be energy-efficient?
Yes. The building will be designed with great attention to sustainability. Energy-efficiency features include advanced conservation methods in heating and cooling and state-of-the-art artificial lighting and plumbing, as well as natural light throughout the building and specially treated window glass to mitigate heat gain. The building’s sustainability features are expected to qualify it to receive a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
How is the new courthouse being funded?
The courthouse is being funded without impact to the state’s General Fund. The funds come from statewide increases in court user fees, authorized by the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002. This bill approved the issuance of lease-revenue bonds to fund this project, to be repaid by court fees, penalties, and assessments. Bonds were sold for this project in the fall of 2014.
How did the state arrive at its initial budget for the project?
Judicial Council staff develop each project budget by first determining the building size, site size, and number of parking spaces. Then it provides this information to a professional cost estimating firm that creates a hard construction cost for the building and site work. To this, council staff add all project soft costs, which includes all costs associated with evaluating, selecting, and acquiring a site, analysis required to comply with CEQA, the fee for the architecture and engineering team, geotechnical testing, project management and construction management fees, commissioning fees, and the cost of furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
How can the state afford a new courthouse at all, given current state finances?
The new Stockton Courthouse was authorized under the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002, which transferred responsibility for court facilities—their repair, renovation and construction—from counties to the state. To fund desperately needed renovations and repairs, penalty assessments and parking offense penalties were increased, and civil filing fee surcharges were created. This ensured a revenue stream to finance courthouse construction and renovations, promising these projects would be paid for from within the court system rather than drawing on the state's General Fund or local taxes. Once the courthouse is completed and occupied, the same revenue stream will repay those bonds over 35 years. This means that funds from other court jurisdictions will support San Joaquin's critical needs in years to come.
Who is the architect on the project?
The Seattle office of NBBJ Architects was selected to design the new Stockton Courthouse. Founded in 1943, NBBJ provides architecture and sustainable design services, as well urban design and land-use planning. The company has won numerous awards for its work from the American Institute of Architecture and the Royal Institute of British Architects. It received Healthcare Design Magazine’s 2013 Firm of the Year Award. Its projects have included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Campus and the Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.
How were the architects selected?
Judicial Council staff use a competitive selection process, factoring in qualitative criteria, such as the firm’s experience, as well as its fee. The architectural company is retained early in the project to begin preliminary drawings.
What are the key milestones in designing the courthouse?
Where can I see renderings of the new courthouse?
Renderings are posted on the project web page under the GALLERY tab.
Will the new courthouse be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
This project is designed to qualify for a LEED Gold rating from U.S. Green Building Council. This is the national standard for sustainable design. Numerous energy-saving features such as natural sunlight throughout the building and specially treated window glass to mitigate heat gain will make the courthouse more economical to operate over time.
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