A new courthouse is coming to Fresno to replace a building that is nearly 60 years old and far out of compliance with most building standards.
The state budget includes $749 million for a new court facility to replace the main Fresno County criminal courthouse at 1100 Van Ness, as well as two other downtown buildings. The court is seeking a two-acre location covering 413,299 square feet.
“This project is in the Immediate Need priority group and consequently is one of the highest priority trial court capital-outlay projects for the judicial branch,” the court said on its website.
The new courthouse would also replace facilities at the North Annex Jail — which handles criminal and domestic violence matters — and the M Street Courthouse, which handles criminal and traffic matters. The latter building is not owned by the state or county, rather it is leased from Wolfsen Land & Cattle Company.
The new courthouse is scheduled to open in January 2031. The project, the court said, is currently in the “acquisition phase.” Where the court is scouting a new location has not been announced, but real-estate sources tell GV Wire that the court is seeking a location in downtown Fresno.
The county owns the main courthouse. A spokeswoman said the county is holding internal discussions on what to do with the building when the court moves out.
A design-build and construction phase is estimated to start by December 2025. The project would also allow room for expansion.
The B.F. Sisk Courthouse — a former federal courthouse used for civil matters — and the juvenile courthouse would remain.
Criminal Courthouse Has Plenty of Problems
The main Fresno County Superior Courthouse, with its distinctive grate-like façade, opened in 1966.
It was on the site of the neo-classical style courthouse that opened in 1875 and was razed in the 1960s .
Many residents and local leaders opposed the demolition, which remains a subject of debate to this day.
After 60 years, that current building needs to be replaced, the court says.
“The Fresno County Courthouse is the superior court’s oldest and largest facility and is substantially out of compliance with regulatory safety, seismic, accessibility codes, and Judicial Council space standards,” the court’s website said.
Among the listed problems: a small lobby and screening area, elevators, jury assembly room, holding facility, and attorney-client meeting rooms.
Moving out of the current criminal courthouse could save $42 million in deferred maintenance costs, the court said.
The new court would house 36 courtrooms, about the same number listed for the three buildings it would replace.