Apr 19, 2022 - Business

Noise control proposal threatens Des Moines Social Club redevelopment

A photo of the Des Moines Social Club.

Malo, a Latin-themed restaurant, is still operating on the Des Moines Social Club site. Its owners are part of a group of investors proposing a redevelopment of the campus. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A city noise control recommendation made public Monday could affect plans to redevelop the Des Moines Social Club (DMSC).

What's happening: Local business leaders Todd Millang, Tyler Dingel and Paul Rottenberg are partnering on a proposal to redesign much of the 30,000-square-foot facility for commercial tenants.

  • They say their redevelopment plans would become far more difficult if Des Moines approves the noise proposal.

Catch up fast: DMSC invested about $7 million into transforming the former fire station into an "arts incubator" with an outdoor courtyard before shuttering and putting the space up for sale about a year ago.

  • A Kansas City developer had looked into repurposing the site into a boutique speakeasy and outdoor music venue, but backed out of a deal late last year.

Fast forward: The latest concept calls for removing an outdoor concert stage, but allowing events like weddings and retirements to be celebrated in the space.

Plus: The Des Moines Association of Professional Firefighters is considering an option to locate in the building, Millang told the City Council Monday.

  • A union hall would provide necessary rental income for the group.

What they're saying: Under the noise proposal, traffic sounds and trains in the area would surpass the proposed decibel limits at the site, Darren Hushak, a consultant working for Millang's group, told the council Monday.

The other side: James Heckmann, president of nearby condo 111 City Lofts' homeowners association, is pushing back against the redevelopment proposal.

  • He said past DMSC events were disruptive for condo residents and that Millang's current proposal isn't an appropriate use of the site.

What's next: City staff are further assessing the noise situation and will likely release final recommendations in coming weeks, City Manager Scott Sanders said Monday.

Of note: The City Council on Monday rejected a separate noise ordinance proposed for Lauridsen Amphitheater in a 5-2 vote after venue promoters said a 9pm concert cutoff would harm the city's music scene.

  • Josh Mandelbaum and Linda Westergaard were the two city councilmembers to vote in support of the ordinance.

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