Des Moines City Leaders See Breakthrough in Plan to Stop Construction of Federal Courthouse Along River

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Des Moines city officials say they are are one step closer to the goal of creating private development on what they claim is the state's most prized piece of property.

The city council voted unanimously to allow the city to buy the land that sits on the former Riverfront YMCA. Currently, Hubbell Realty owns the property and has until the end of May to make development plans. If developers fail to come up with a plan, they are obligated to sell the land to the city for $5.2 million. City leaders says that money would come from cash on hand or through bonds.

Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson says the city plans to work closely with developers to turn their vision of restaurants, retail, and offices on the property into a reality.

"The next step is that Hubbell Realty will notify the GSA that they're withdrawing the site from consideration for the courthouse. The GSA has three other alternative sites that they're considering," he said. "There's gonna be a significant financial incentive package put together from the city, That's gonna give the city council the leverage. We'll be at the table the entire time during the design process. Ultimately the city council can vote yes or no on the incentive package, which means they are also voting yes or no on what they want there."

Previously, the GSA had selected the site as its preferred location to build a $137 million federal courthouse. The government is now faced with the task of selecting a new preferred site from the remaining three it was considering. There is no hard deadline of when a decision has to be made. City leaders say developers are expected to announce their plans for keeping the site to the GSA on Tuesday.