Fresno’s Superior Court eyes land for new 36 courtroom, 413k square-foot courthouse

Judges are set to exit Fresno’s long-detested honeycombed courthouse in favor of newer (and safer) digs.

Fresno County’s Superior Court is set for a shake-up as the California Judicial Council begins eyeing real estate to replace three of its five facilities in downtown Fresno.

Court planners are eyeing two-acre parcels that can provide 413,299 square feet of usable facilities for court operations.


The backstory: California lawmakers appropriated $749 million toward the a new court facility, aiming to replace the honeycomb-facade courthouse in Fresno’s Courthouse Park.

  • The exit from the main courthouse comes amid a report from the Judicial Council of failing to meet seismic and other modern building standards, undersized facilities, unworkable logistics for handling attorney-client interactions along with maneuvering in-custody criminal defendants.
  • Fresno’s main criminal courthouse has been the source of contention and hard feelings since its construction in 1966, when it replaced Fresno’s historic, neoclassical-style courthouse over similar seismic concern.

Driving the news: The site selection phase of the courthouse project will see Fresno County’s Superior Court eliminate three buildings it currently rents – the main criminal courthouse, the North Annex Jail, and it M Street Courthouse.

  • The first two are owned by Fresno County. The latter is owned by the Wolfsen Land & Cattle Company.
  • The move out of leased spaces and into state owned-and-operated facilities has emerged as a logistical and operational priority for California’s judicial branch.
  • In 2007, the Fresno-based Fifth District Court of Appeal dedicated its freshly-built George N. Zenovich Building in Fresno’s Armenia Town after a thirteen year bid by then-Presiding Judge James Ardaiz to exit its leased space on Capitol Street (near a newly-constructed Federal building) and have its own home.
  • In 2010, Fresno County Superior Court formally dedicated the remodeled B.F. Sisk Courthouse after acquiring the property from the Federal Government (who vacated the property for the Robert E Coyle Federal Building) for $1.

What’s next? While still in site selection, the Judicial Council is eyeing the commencement of design-build for the courthouse project to begin December 2025 and complete for opening in January 2031.

  • All told, the new courthouse will house 36 courtroom, consolidating the number of courtrooms held in the three existing buildings under one roof, while allowing for court expansion.
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