Mar 19, 2021 - News
Des Moines neighborhoods build endowments to fund improvements
Illustration of a pair of hands laying down bricks made of hundred dollar bills. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sherman Hill is starting an endowment, and it’s at least the second DSM neighborhood association to do so, the group’s members told Axios.

Why it matters: It'll help pay the association's operating expenses and leverage money for significant and ongoing improvements within the historic district.

  • It could lessen reliance on special taxes that pay for things like decorative streetlights, especially if other neighborhoods follow suit.

The backdrop: Sherman Hill's neighborhood association is already organized as a nonprofit group. And it has spent decades fighting urban decay.

  • It helped broker a land deal for the ongoing construction of a 30-unit apartment complex on the corner of 19th and Crocker streets, near Smokey Row Coffee.
  • At least nine homes that faced demolition have been moved into the neighborhood and restored in the last five years with the group’s advocacy.
  • The 2021 average assessed value of Sherman Hill homes climbed 11% in two years to just under $237,000, well above the citywide average of $162,400.

How it works: Neighborhood officials believe the endowment will be especially helpful in soliciting contributions from people planning their estates.

  • The lost revenue from the cancellation of the association's annual walking tour of homes fundraiser last year intensified the its effort to establish an independent source of revenue.
  • Original donations will exist in perpetuity and be managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.
  • Waterbury has had one for years that works much the same way.

What’s next: Legal work will be completed in the coming weeks before an official launch, David Schlarmann, the association’s former president who is leading the endowment efforts, told Axios.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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