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Utah's federal judges first pitched the idea of a new courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City nearly 20 years ago.

No one knew the maze of securing building permits, land and money to build a revamped home for the state's U.S. District Court would take two decades, Judge Tena Campbell said.

But patience and persistence paid off for those who spearheaded the project — including Campbell and Judge Samuel Alba — Thursday at a ground-breaking ceremony for the $226 million project that will result in a new federal courthouse in 2014.

Judges, legislators, attorneys and others connected to the project gathered to celebrate that what once was only hope for a different courthouse has turned into a reality.

"There were some dark days," Campbell said, describing mounds of meetings and lobbying that went into securing a site and funding for the project.

"This building is a long time in coming."

The U.S. General Services Administration sponsored the ceremony at 351 West Temple, where work on the new courthouse is underway.

The new courthouse will include nine courtrooms, 14 judge's chambers and office support spaces. Parking will be included below the building. The 409,397-square-foot facility is located west of the Frank E. Moss U.S. Courthouse at 350 S. Main St.

Tenants at the new courthouse include the U.S. District Court, probation and pretrial services office, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The Moss Courthouse will house the bankruptcy judges, the U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Trustee.

At a program featuring Gov. Gary Herbert, members of Utah's congressional delegation, and Campbell, several people spoke about the necessary improvements the new courthouse will bring.

The expansion started in 1992, when government officials deemed the Moss Courthouse unsatisfactory for security reasons because prisoners, judges and the public cannot be routed down separate corridors.

The project stalled with a dispute over the move of the historic Odd Fellows Hall, which sits in the spot designated for the new courthouse. After some discussion about demolishing the building to make way for the new courthouse, pressure from preservationists convinced government officials to move the building rather than destroy it.

The federal government spent $6.5 million to move and clean up the structure, which was sold at auction for $1.2 million in September. The GSA on Thursday confirmed the building was purchased by The Dennis Group, a bidder formerly known as Rosebud. The 119-year-old, three-story Odd Fellows building now sits on the north side of Market Street between Main and West Temple streets.

Tom Dennis, owner of the Springfield, Mass.-based Dennis Group, could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment about his plans for Odd Fellows Hall. The group is a construction management and design company and as an office branch in Salt Lake City.

Also condemned to make way for the new courthouse building was the Shubrick Building, home of Port O' Call and the unoccupied Galley and DeWorth buildings.

The GSA received $186 million for construction and construction management for the new courthouse, while the total project cost, which includes design, construction and management tallies up to approximately $226 million.

The new building is designed to be more energy efficient, and its 10 stories will make a noticeable presence on Salt Lake City's skyline, said Thomas Phifer, an architect for the project.

In all, 23,000 yards of concrete and 4,200 tons of steel will go into the building. Sixty-five subcontractors and suppliers —most from Utah small businesses —will be used as construction moves forward. The project is expected to create 2,000 jobs, said Randy Okland, president of Okland Construction, which is managing the project.

Former Sen. Bob Bennett, who in 2009 netted more than $200 million for the project from the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he is pleased to see bulldozers ready to dig into the construction site.

"It's a testimony to the growth in the state of Utah that this courthouse is needed," Bennett said.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch praised Utah's federal judges and said their important work is worthy of an upgraded facility.

"They are some of the best judges in the country and they deserve a new courthouse building," Hatch said.