Recent News

Survey: New Grand Avenue bridge designs unveiled

Reported in the Business Record & KCCI News

April 8, 2014

We are getting our first look at what a new replacement bridge might look like after the downtown Grand Avenue bridge over the Des Moines River is torn down. There are four designs, ranging from a plain beam bridge for $6 million to a beam bridge with arch designs for $8 million. A true arch bridge like the old one would cost $32 million. City leaders would like to keep the arch design since it matches other downtown bridges and is an iconic design for the city. You can get a better look at the Grand Avenue bridge designs 6:30-7:30 p.m. next Monday at Des Moines City Hall. There is also a survey about the bridge on the Des Moines City Hall website.

Lunch n’ Learn – April 8th: Create or Update Your Disaster Recovery Plan

As we learned from this last weekend’s fire at the Younkers Building, emergencies can happen anytime and without warning. Does your business have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place, or does it need updated?

The Downtown Chamber wants to ensure that our businesses and nonprofit organizations are prepared in any situation. We invite you to a lunch n’ learn next Tuesday, April 8th, from 11:30am-1:00pm at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

Jami Haberl, Executive Director at the Safeguard Iowa Partnership will discuss tools and resources to help you prepare your business continuity and disaster recovery plans. This event is FREE to members of the Downtown Chamber. Non-members may also attend for a small fee.

Get more information

I can’t make it

Hulse likely to become interim city manager

Via the Business Record – April 1, 2014

Larry Hulse is likely to take over as interim city manager for the city of Des Moines, The Des Moines Register reported. Hulse has worked in the city manager’s office since 2010, and before that served as Des Moines’ community development director. Rick Clark will retire at the end of May, and a search process for a new city manager is underway and expected to be completed by July. Hulse could serve in the role for several months as the new person transitions into the position. The city council  likely will vote on Hulse’s appointment at its meeting on April 7.

Impact of Younkers building fire

BY KYLE OPPENHUIZEN | Staff Writer | @KyleOppenhuizen
 Des Moines Business Record
March 31, 2014

The weekend fire at the Younkers building on Walnut Street is affecting downtown today through the destruction of the downtown landmark, displaced office workers and closed roads. Here’s what you need to know this morning:


The cause: The cause of the fire is still unknown, but a national fire response team will lead an investigation, The Des Moines Register reported. The team includes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


Collateral damage: EMC Insurance Cos., which has more than 1,000 workers downtown, has closed the office today due to cleanup, and plans to reopen Tuesday, WHO-TV reported. The Greater Des Moines Partnership’s building also sustained damage, leading Partnership staff to take temporary office space on the seventh floor of Two Ruan Center. Wells Fargo’s downtown banking store on the first floor of the Financial Center is closed as well, as the ongoing cleanup provides limited access to the building.


Road closings: Locust and Walnut streets are closed between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street. The closures have caused 22 DART routes to take detours. Click here for more information on the detoured routes.


Background: The building was under renovation. The Alexander Company Inc. of Madison, Wis., was working on a $35 million renovation to provide 48 market-rate and 72 affordable rental units, and retail space at the street and skywalk levels. The Alexander Company had paid $3 million for the property and was carrying $16 million in mortgages. The building had been vacant since 2005.


Reaction: Mayor Frank Cownie told KCCI that “Certainly for those of us who grew up here, it’s sort of like somebody tore a part of our heart out.” The city will help the building’s owners and developers make a new plan for the space. As for how the fire will affect downtown redevelopment efforts, the Partnership released a statement saying “This is certainly a temporary setback, but it will not stop progress or momentum on a wide range of significant development projects currently under construction and planned for the future. … The Partnership and the entire region have a history of working through tough challenges, and this one will be no different.”


Photos/video: To see a photos of the fire, click on this KCCI photo gallery. For a video, click here.

Downtown Younkers Building Destroyed

Reported on KCCI – March29, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa —The landmark downtown Des Moines building that used to house the Younkers department store caught fire early Saturday and was destroyed.

It was a three-alarm fire, meaning large numbers of firefighters and equipment were sent to the scene at 7th and Walnut Streets downtown.  Witnesses reported huge flames leaping from the upper floors of the building.  Video captured by one witness shows a huge part of one wall collapsing into the street.

By 7:00 a.m. Saturday, firefighters remained on the scene pouring water on what remains of the building.

Heavy smoke billowed over downtown Des Moines throughout the overnight hours.  Firefighters found the upper floors fully aflame when they arrived.  They quickly called for reinforcements as the building exploded in flames.  Debris from the upper stories collapsed onto the skywalk leading east from the Younkers building.

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