Jan 6, 2022 - News

The costs of EMC's new park in downtown Des Moines

Architectural rendering of a proposed park in downtown Des Moines.

Chess tables, a climbing feature for kids and athletic courts are among the features planned for the EMC park in DSM. Architectural rendering courtesy of BBS Architects & Engineers/Confluence via EMC Insurance

EMC Insurance's proposed downtown park will cost Des Moines as much as $39,000 a year over the next decade, according to preliminary agreements to be considered by the City Council next week.

Why it matters: The company forwent a $24 million headquarter expansion at the property, opting instead to build a park and dashing Des Moines' potential gain in growing its tax base.

  • Yes, but: Amenities like parks play a vital role in making a city a more attractive place to live and work, Brandon Brown, the president of the Des Moines Downtown Neighborhood Association, told Axios.

Catch up fast: A fire destroyed a Younkers department store at the site in 2014. Four years later, EMC purchased the property for $1.9 million.

  • The park concept was announced last year after the company determined it had no near-term need for additional office space, partly due to work-from-home flexibilities that have developed during the pandemic.

By the numbers: EMC will develop the park and lease it back to the city for at least 10 years, according to the preliminary agreement.

  • DSM will pay $14,000 a year for the lease, which is roughly the same amount as the city's portion of property taxes, Parks and Recreation director Ben Page told Axios.
  • Maintenance and repairs will cost DSM up to $250,000 over the initial period. Anything above $25,000 a year will be EMC's responsibility, company spokesperson Sarah Buckley told Axios.

What's next: The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal Monday.

  • Completion is expected by late summer.
A photo of construction where a new downtown Des Moines park will be located.
EMC will spend more than $3.5 million to develop this .4-acre plot into a park and repair adjacent skywalk structures to the property. Photo courtesy of Brandon Brown

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