The California Judicial Branch has zoomed in on a downtown Santa Barbara location where it plans to build a $152 million criminal courthouse, a massive project that would create an estimated 3,500 direct and indirect jobs in the area as the South County’s criminal and traffic court operations are consolidated under one roof.
The state court system is looking to purchase the property at 1025 Santa Barbara St. to build a 97,000-square-foot, eight-courtroom facility. Construction is slated to begin in early 2014, wrapping up by late 2015.
Approval for the project could set in motion a domino effect of building and reconstruction along the Figueroa Street corridor, already a major hub for financial and legal services firms. It could spark a retail and residential revival in an often overlooked corner of the city. “Right downtown, right now, this is good news,” said Steve Cushman, president of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce.
After spending more than a year scouting out potential spots in the city, the judicial branch picked the site, known as the Hayward property, as its top choice. While no formal purchase deal on the property has been struck yet, the California State Public Works Board approved it for site selection at its Dec. 13 meeting in Sacramento.
The new facility would replace Santa Barbara’s current criminal courthouse on Figueroa Street and the jury services building on Santa Barbara Street. The replacement — which would have the court system vacating the two current locations — is needed to alleviate overcrowding and offer better security, according to the judicial branch.