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City Disappointed with Location of New Federal Courthouse

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A new federal courthouse at the former Riverfront YMCA site downtown is not what the city had in mind.

"The location is one of the best pieces of real estate in Iowa, but it will be off of the tax rolls.

"The YMCA site could have pretty easily been a $50 to $80 million project, so yes, having that be a non-taxable use certainly is kind of a hit to us," said Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson.

Anderson says the city had envisioned a mixed use development for the site, creating a lively riverwalk experience.

"Picture café seating and an ice cream shop and maybe a little bit of retail, a bar restaurant with a mezzanine level or maybe a rooftop patio looking out toward the state capitol. That's kind of been our urban planning vision for that site. We attempted that with Hubbell Realty on a couple go arounds last year, or the year before. It was really hard at that point in the market to make the numbers work on that site."

One project the city considers a win is Hubbell's Gray's Station.

"The first phase of the project is right here at 11th and MLK Parkway," explained Rick Tollakson, president and CEO of Hubbell Realty Company. "It'll be a retail building on the first level and apartments above, probably transitioning into condos. As we move all the way south down Tuttle, which will continue onto the west, we'll line the street with apartments and that will kind of frame the project. Inside will be a variety of townhomes, row homes, some duplexes, single family homes."

The massive $250 million development will span 75 acres and take up to 20 years to build.

"A lot of millennials want to move downtown, but they're only part of the group," said Tollakson. "A lot of people my age are also selling their homes in the suburbs and moving downtown as well, because they want a walkable community. They want to be close to restaurants, entertainment venues, they just want to be part of the action."

The General Services Administration will hold a public meeting to discuss the project on July 17th at the Central Library Meeting Room starting at 6:30 p.m.