2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Legislators earmark $1 million for study of what to do with Iowa's State Historical Building

Lawmakers balk at cost of repairing 30-year-old facility

The State Historical Building in Des Moines needs about $50 million in repairs, prompting lawmakers to order a study on alternatives — including a move to the State Fairgrounds.  (The Gazette)
The State Historical Building in Des Moines needs about $50 million in repairs, prompting lawmakers to order a study on alternatives — including a move to the State Fairgrounds. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — The Iowa House earmarked $1 million for a State Historical Building Task Force to look at alternatives to spending as much as $50 million to repair the State Historical Building.

“That’s nuts,” bill manager Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, said about the repair cost.

“If we’re going to rehab that, we’re talking about spending almost twice as much, possibly, as it did to originally build it,” added Rep. Dennis Cohoon, D-Burlington. The building is “a poster child of what happens when don’t keep up our buildings.”

The task force, created in House File 765, the annual infrastructure budget, is to issue an interim report to the Legislature later this year and a final report in 2021 on the possibility of erecting a new Historical Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Gov. Kim Reynolds agreed the building “needs some work,” but didn’t take a position on the future of the building constructed with public and private funds 32 years ago at a cost of $26 million.

“They’ve had several different proposals before this Legislature over the last several years, and they have not moved on that,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “If they have some other ideas … we’ll take a look at it.

No decision has been made on the future of the building, just west of the Capitol.

“We’re not saying we’re going to move, but we would like to look at options instead of spending $50 million on that facility as it is,” Mohr said. “The prudent thing to do here is to look at options here instead of just putting $50 million into a 30-year-old building.”

— James Q. Lynch, Gazette Des Moines Bureau

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