DES MOINES, Iowa — Construction crews have spent the past four years transforming the vacant lot across the river from Des Moines City Hall into a new federal courthouse. The building is almost done, and the federal government will soon place the historic courthouse up for sale.

The U.S. General Services Administration estimates the $140 million courthouse between Locust Street and Grand Avenue will finish construction next month. The project broke ground in August 2019 and was originally estimated to finish last fall before COVID-related construction delays.

The federal government plans to move employees from the old courthouse in July. The historic courthouse next to the river on East Walnut Street will then hit the auction block; an online listing is already available for the building.

The soon-to-be-former courthouse was built in 1929 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The site of the new courthouse also has a prominent place in Des Moines history. It was home to the towering Riverfront YMCA and its distinctive neon sign before the building was imploded in 2015.

The new federal building will primarily house the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. It will also be home to the following courts and agencies:

  • Southern District of Iowa Judiciary Court
  • Southern District of Iowa Bankruptcy Court
  • Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States Probation and Pretrial Services
  • United States Marshals Service
  • Federal Public Defenders Office
  • United States Attorneys Office