State agency board approves controversial purchase of office building
The Iowa Finance Authority Board today approved buying an office building it is currently leasing from Hubbell Realty Co. at 1963 Bell Ave. The agency will pay $7.59 million for the building, 67% more than the three-story structure’s 2019 assessed value of $4.54 million. In a release, the agency said it would have cost $7.5 million to lease the building through 2030. The purchase has been controversial for the state. In April 2018, the Des Moines Register reported that weeks before former Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison was fired, the state’s top officials, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, approved relocating the agency from a state-owned building to 1963 Bell Ave. Jamison, who was fired following claims of sexual harassment, arranged the then-$17 million deal even though a third-party review showed that the agency’s needs could have been met in the state-owned building for 15 to 20 years. Under the plan approved by the IFA board today, the Iowa Economic Development Authority will rent office space from the Iowa Finance Authority and will move into the second and third floors of the building by January. IFA plans to have an additional tenant occupy the first floor in the future. Iowa Finance Authority and Iowa Economic Development Authority Executive Director Debi Durham said in a news release: “This is both a sound financial and strategic move.” The board’s decision is subject to approval by Reynolds’ executive council at its July 15 meeting.