Sep 10, 2021 - News
Sale of Des Moines Social Club goes before City Council
The exterior of Malo, a Latin-themed restaurant, on the Des Moines Social Club campus.
Malo, a Latin-themed restaurant, is still operating on the Des Moines Social Club campus and plans to continue operating after the potential sale, city officials told Axios yesterday. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

The Des Moines Social Club campus will be sold to a Kansas City, Missouri, developer looking to repurpose the events venue and add a boutique speakeasy under a $3.1 million proposed sale that goes before the City Council Monday.

Why it matters: In 2014, when DMSC first opened the doors of its 30,000-square-foot facility at 900 Mulberry St., it was a central Iowa art hub.

  • And while it's dissolving, former club director Zach Mannheimer told Axios that the new plans meet the spirit of the group's goal to help local artists and entrepreneurs.

Driving the news: A transition board of business and civic leaders, who took control of the club in 2019, announced an agreement Thursday for Abbott Events and Abbott Hospitality Group to buy the campus.

  • The art gallery will reopen and the facility's courtyard will become an outdoor music venue, according to the plan. (Abbott plans to invest more than $3.5 million in additional renovations.)

Flashback: DMSC was awarded millions of dollars in tax credits, donations and debt over the years to transform Des Moines' former Fire Station No. 1 into an "arts incubator".

  • But the nonprofit invested nearly $7 million in the project — above its $4.3 million fundraising total — placing pressure on its financing, according to city documents obtained by Axios.

What's ahead: The City Council vote Monday is necessary prior to the sale as part of DMSC's 2012 agreement with DSM when it purchased the historic fire station for $600K.

  • Sale proceeds would be enough to retire the club's debt, Courtney Shaw, a spokesperson for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, told Axios.
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