Recent News

IT firm Cognizant to buy TriZetto for $2.7 billion

Reported in the Business Record – 9/15/2014

The New York Times: Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. said on Monday that it has agreed to buy the health care information technology company TriZetto Corp. for $2.7 billion in cash. The deal is expected to bolster Cognizant’s health care business by creating a combined company with more than $3 billion in revenue from their health care operations and serving health plans that provide coverage to about 180 million Americans. In June 2012, Cognizant entered into a seven-year agreement with ING U.S., now Voya Financial, to operate an information technology center in downtown Des Moines.

Equitable fire a ‘hiccup’ in development plans

BY KENT DARR | Senior Staff Writer | @KentDarrReported in the Business Record 9/2/14

A fire over the weekend in a crawl space has delayed renovation plans for the landmark Equitable Building at Sixth Avenue and Locust Street by about one month, an owner said today.

Shawn Foutch said that after assessing the damage he talked to investment partners, who have said that their support for the  renovation was not shaken by a fire early Saturday that appears to have started in an air conditioning unit.

“One of equity partners basically said, ‘Assess the damage, roll it into the project and let’s go,’ ” Foutch said.

Foutch and his brothers, operating as Foutch Bros. LLC., bought the building out of foreclosure for $460,000 in 2012 and announced an $18 million conversion of what was once the tallest office building in the city to 120 apartments, while preserving office and retail spaces on the lower floors.

After walking through the building with fire investigators, Foutch said the cause appears to have been an air conditioning apparatus outside the second floor. Fire spread into a crawl space between the second and third floors, where it was confined.

Foutch said the sound construction of 90-year-old building apparently prevented the fire from spreading to other floors.

There is smoke damage throughout the building and water damage from the third floor down.

One area of concern has been whether the fire penetrated material that has encapsulated asbestos. That once-common fire retardant has been at the cause of woe at the Equitable Building, which was once owned by the late Bob Knapp. Knapp served a federal prison sentence for violating federal air standards for abatement of the hazardous substance. Knapp died a few days after completing the prison term.

Foutch said the entire building is being considered as a hazardous waste site until inspectors determine whether asbestos is a new threat. He believes an inspection should be completed by Thursday.

Renovation of the building was scheduled to begin in November or December. That work probably has been delayed by about 30 days.

“We’ll get through this hiccup, and then we’ll be on our way,” Foutch said.

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.