New drawings show a 17-story, glass-walled Sacramento courthouse standing beside its federal counterpart at the edge of the city’s downtown railyard site.

Whether it will ever be built remains to be seen.

Sacramento leaders have high hopes for a gleaming new courthouse that can help shape the city’s evolving skyline, bridging the divide between downtown’s bureaucratic office towers and its future retail, entertainment and housing district in the railyard.

City and court leaders also have practical motivations, namely a way to replace the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse, which they say is outdated, overcrowded and unsafe.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the courthouse is not a “wouldn’t it be nice” kind of project.

“There are significant safety issues now,” he said. “It’s not a luxury.”

The proposed 538,000-square-foot building with 53 courtrooms has an estimated price tag of $490 million – and no identifiable funding source. It would move Sacramento Superior Court operations three blocks west of the current courthouse, built in 1965 at 720 Ninth St.

The state’s Judicial Council has money for renderings, but not much more. The release of new drawings this week gave a glimmer of hope to Sacramento leaders who see the courthouse as another transformational building in the downtown area.

Councilman Steve Hansen shared the conceptual drawings on social media and said he hopes a good vetting process will make the design even better. The project is being designed by the architectural firm NBBJ with the rendering by Motiv.

“We’ll want a lot of public engagement and feedback to get a great building,” he said.

He said it’s important that the building connect to the existing city to the south and the new railyard development to the north.

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