Recent News

Does East Village have enough parking?

reported in the Des Moines Register, Joel Aschbrenner, – 8/27/14

You should be able to find a parking spot in the East Village. But you might have to walk a block or two.

That’s the conclusion of a recently completed parking study commissioned by the city of Des Moines and the Historic East Village Board, a neighborhood association.

Parking has been a growing point of contention in the trendy neighborhood as developers transform surface parking lots into new apartments, hotels and storefronts. Some business owners and residents scoff at the idea that the area has too much parking, while advocates for urban planning say the East Village is meant to be a dense neighborhood where walkability trumps easy parking.

Some 82 percent of business owners and 73 percent of customers and visitors surveyed said the East Village needs more parking.

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Group drops support of East Village hotel project

Reported in the Des Moines Register – 8/20/14  Joel Aschbrenner, jaschbrenn@dmreg.comHansen 1.JPG

The decision to cut street-level retail space from a $49 million East Village development has drawn opposition from neighborhood leaders and left city officials deadlocked about giving the project public subsidies.

Hansen Real Estate Services wants to build a hotel, apartment and parking garage complex covering an entire city block at 201 E. Locust St.

The Johnston-based company brought its plans before Des Moines’ Urban Design Review Board on Monday, where members of an East Village neighborhood group protested Hansen’s decision to build the hotel without retail space as it originally planned.

The Historic East Village Board voted Monday to withdraw its support for the project. Members said the development provided a rare chance to expand foot traffic in the East Village by expanding retail to the west.

“This is a missed opportunity to create a vibrant stretch in our neighborhood that connects the Principal Riverwalk to the East Village core,” said board President Colleen MacRae.

The project requires approval from the City Council because it relies on a $5 million incentive from the city to help fund the parking garage.

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Preservationist seeks to protect Riverfront YMCA building

Reported in the Business Record – 8/19/14
Even as an out-of-state buyer has filed a letter of intent to purchase the Riverfront YMCA, which sits on a prime development lot, a local preservationist is seeking to protect the 57-year-old building by having it declared a historical landmark, reports If Jack Porter, a former city councilman and a preservation consultant, is successful in getting the building declared a landmark, it would put hurdles in the way of altering or demolishing it.

EMC plans new office building downtown

Reported in the Business Record 8/14/14
EMC Insurance Cos. will demolish three buildings on its downtown corporate campus and replace them with a four-story office building at Eighth and Walnut streets, the company said today.
“EMC has been headquartered in downtown Des Moines since the company was founded 103 years ago,” President and CEO Bruce Kelley said in a release. “The company is committed to the downtown Des Moines location and taking advantage of the amenities it has to offer.”
The new building will be located in northwest quarter of the block bordered by Seventh and Eighth streets and Walnut and Mulberry streets. The EMC campus currently includes the EMC home office building at 717 Mulberry St., the 700 Walnut St. high-rise tower, the Hub Tower at Seventh and Walnut, the Kaleidoscope at the Hub, a parking garage and several surface parking lots.
The new building will be constructed where there are three smaller vacant buildings that are no longer suitable for occupancy, the company said. Those buildings are known as the Robertson, Robertson Annex and Foster buildings.
“Several issues, such as structural deficiencies, energy inefficiency and fire safety, prohibit the continued operation of these buildings from being a viable option,” Robert Link, senior vice president of administration at EMC, said in the release.
Plans for the building include space for EMC’s Wellness Center, meeting rooms, and computer, mechanical and printing equipment, along with tenant space on the first floor facing Walnut.
EMC is working with Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering in Des Moines on the plans for the new facility. The companies have partnered on building projects for more than 40 years, including the EMC buildings at 717 Mulberry and 700 Walnut.
Des Moines bidding to host NCAA men’s basketball tournament

Reported in the Business Record, 8-7-14

The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, Iowa State University, and Global Spectrum, which runs Wells Fargo Arena, are bidding to host the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Wells Fargo Arena in past years has held Division I wrestling and women’s basketball championships, and Des Moines hosted the men’s and women’s track championships in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Dan Houston, president of retirement, insurance and financial services with Principal Financial Group Inc., is the honorary chair of a local committee charged with getting the tourney to Des Moines, said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a news release.