Sep 20, 2023 - News

Why Des Moines' suburbs are modernizing office spaces

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Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Developers in the suburbs are modernizing their office buildings to try and attract more tenants.

Why it matters: Nearly 80% of the metro's new office leases last quarter happened in the western suburbs

  • The suburban area houses the highest total office square footage in the metro and sets an example for what potential tenants are looking to lease.

State of play: In the metro's western suburbs, 17% of office space was vacant during the first quarter.

  • Vacancies were down slightly to 16%, or about 1.6 million square feet, in the second quarter ending June 30.

How it's happening: These office buildings were built later and include more recent upgrades, making them an easier sell, West Des Moines' economic development director Ryan Moffat tells Axios. Meanwhile, downtown is dealing with more aging buildings.

  • Similar to apartments, office owners are trying to differentiate themselves by offering unique amenities. In West Des Moines, owners have added coffee shops, cafeterias and even pickleball courts.
  • Free parking is also an added perk for suburban office workers, he says.

Zoom in: Palisade Building, owned by R&R Realty at 4900 University Ave., underwent improvements in 2021 after its former tenant left to work remotely.

  • The group improved the 1980s exterior and added a modern fitness center, outdoor gathering space and more food and beverage options. In May, Co-op Solutions announced it would occupy nearly 100,000 square feet of the building.
  • In Waukee, credit card processing company VizyPay moved to a new office building in the suburb in 2021, Waukee economic development director Jennifer Brown tells Axios. The building includes a bar and rooftop seating.

Of note: West Des Moines and Urbandale are also incentivizing office development through property tax rebates.

  • Urbandale recently approved around $3.3 million in tax incentives for three commercial buildings around the Urban Loop worth more than $100 million. The projects include new construction and office redevelopments and are meant to improve the property values of the area.

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