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New federal courthouse to be built downtown Rock Island. But it won't be at the former county courthouse.
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$20 million-plus brand new building

New federal courthouse to be built downtown Rock Island. But it won't be at the former county courthouse.

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A United States federal courthouse is returning to downtown Rock Island

The General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a $49.8 million contract July 12 to Rock Island Investors LLC for the construction of a new building on the site of the former Bituminous Insurance Co., 320 18th St. Notice of the contract was published July 19.

According to the Security and Exchange Commission filing, Rock Island Investors formed in March 2017 and is registered in Overland Park, Kan. There are no members named in the listing.

Tanya Schusler, regional public affairs officer for the GSA, said more information would be available about the contract in a few days. 

"This is very exciting news to have a new, $20 million-plus brand new building in downtown Rock Island," said Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms. "The private developer will be paying property taxes and it will be new income for the city. It's what we've been looking for for the past several years."

The former Central District of Illinois courthouse at 211 19th St., Rock Island, was closed in October 2018 due to mold and flooding issues. Operations were temporarily relocated to the Southern District of Iowa U.S. District Court, 131 E. 4th St., Davenport. Anyone needing to conduct business at the federal courthouse has had to travel to Iowa since then.

The Central District of Illinois also has branches in Peoria, Urbana and Springfield.

The GSA put out a Request for Lease Proposal seeking interested developers for a new site in November 2019. The GSA requested a 20-year lease for either a new building or an existing building of 42,000 to 44,000 square feet. The contract required the building be ADA accessible, a minimum of 16 parking spaces on site, and the ability to secure the premises.

Joe Lemon was one of several developers who submitted applications to the GSA in March, 2020 as he attempted to offer up the old county courthouse for renovation and reuse as a federal courthouse. Lemon owns Abbey Station in Rock Island and the Abbey Addiction Treatment Center in Bettendorf. 

But county board members voted against selling the old courthouse to Lemon in March, 2021, which disqualified him from moving forward with the GSA bidding process. 

Lemon could not be reached for comment Tuesday. 

Kelly Young, senior development manager for Russell Construction, said Tuesday a protest had been filed against the contract and therefore, declined to comment further or confirm the company's involvement as the contractor on the project. 

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