Jack Benco
An artist's rendering shows the new, $211 million federal courthouse that will be 10 stories tall and take three years to build.

SALT LAKE CITY — It took a little pushing and shoving, physically and economically, but with the blessing of the president and Congress, Utah will be home to a new federal courthouse to the tune of $211 million.

With the funds in place, and the space made available, it is anticipated that work will begin on the new federal courthouse in the spring of 2010 and should take three full years.

The new United States District Courthouse for the District of Utah will complete the block between Main and West Temple and 300 and 400 South, where the current courthouse stands. Jack Benco, an architect on the project, said the new building will rise 10 stories and have 368,000 square feet.

He said the present Frank E. Moss courthouse will be renovated, specifically to make it seismically sound, and most likely used for bankruptcy court. He said occupants love the building but feel it is too small to accommodate all the identified needs.

"We're all so big we don't fit anymore," Benco said. "We're in rental space in the neighborhood, and (the construction) will bring us all back together again."

The new building will have room for courtrooms and chambers for district and magistrate judges, two grand jury suites, the U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Marshal Service, pretrial suites for the U.S. attorney and federal public defender, the 10th Circuit Branch Law Library and the U.S. Federal Court Clerk's Office.

The funding was requested by Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who said in a statement that the project was the culmination of "more than a dozen years of effort" and should benefit the state in a number of ways.

"I'm very pleased that Congress has finally recognized the importance of making this project a priority in Salt Lake City," said Bennett. "This courthouse will help meet the growing needs of our state's judiciary system, improve security and give our economy a much needed boost by adding hundreds of jobs."

The General Services Administration told Congress the project would provide $105 million in construction salaries over three years, with an estimated 716 jobs for each of the three years of construction.

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Making space for the building also required major effort, as it meant condemning the Shubrick Building, which housed the popular Port O' Call bar. Some $7.5 million was paid in compensation to the owners. Moving the Odd Fellows Hall, a 118-year-old building, from its original site across the street, cost another $6.7 million.

The courthouse project was earmarked in the annual Financial Services Appropriations bill at Bennett's request. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed it in July, and it was signed into law by the president Wednesday. Bennett is the only Utah member of Congress who serves on an appropriations committee.

The building will feature secured underground parking and will sit on a "raised landscape plaza." The new courthouse will face West Temple Street.

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com