New courthouse a bargain at $440 million?

Good news from the California Judicial Council, the Sacramento Superior Courthouse, slated to be built somewhere downtown in the next five years, will only cost California $439.1 million.

That’s down from a previous estimate of $550 million. The new building, which should be completed sometime around 2015, is needed to replace the aging Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse building, which was built in 1965.

The Schaber building was only supposed to house 22 courtrooms. But owing to lots of crime and litigation, there are 44 courtrooms working in there instead. Says presiding Judge Steve White of the Superior Court of Sacramento County in a recent press release:

“The new courthouse is long overdue and badly needed to serve the citizens of Sacramento County. The current downtown courthouse is 45 years old. It is inadequate to handle the 25,000 people who enter it every week. The jury room, well beyond overcrowded, spills into the hallways of the courthouse; crime victims are forced to wait in the halls with the defendants’ families; and jurors with witnesses. The Sheriff has insufficient facilities to hold and transport in-custody defendants, causing lengthy delays and wait-times in jury trials.”

Makes sense, I suppose. And luckily, the Schaber courthouse will remain in operation for civil cases.

But doesn’t $439.1 million seem like an insanely expensive building? Isn’t a half billion dollars about what it cost to build the Death Star? Closer to home, here’s how the courthouse compares to some of Sacto’s fanciest skyscrapers and public works:

Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse: $134 million

U.S. Bank building (where the Central Library is): $120 million

East End project: $392 million

Sacramento’s City Hall annex: $68 million

Joe Serna Jr. Cal/EPA building: $170 million

The sad part is that the new superior courthouse is still probably less than a new Kings arena will cost us.

Compiled from Snog.