Feb 16, 2024 - News

Scoop: Des Moines considers City Hall-adjacent development

A rendering of a building.

Restaurant space is envisioned along the project's north side, facing Grand Avenue. Rendering: Streamline Architects, courtesy of the city of DSM

A five-story residential and commercial building is being proposed across the street from Des Moines City Hall.

Why it matters: It's among downtown's most promising undeveloped spots, and construction there could potentially add millions of dollars to the city's tax base.

Catch up fast: City government officials sat on the site for years to build a nearly $40 million administrative annex.

  • But plans for the new city office building were abandoned after City Council approved purchasing the former Nationwide Mutual Insurance building last year.
  • Municipal offices will be consolidated at the 372,000-square-foot Nationwide site in coming years.

State of play: The consolidation plan opens multiple city-owned properties up for redevelopment, including the vacant lot.

  • The Argonne Armory, Des Moines Police headquarters and the police academy buildings could also be sold.

Driving the news: City Council will consider a development proposal from Gold Cap Development and its partners.

Zoom in: Chandler Poole, an economic development coordinator for the city, tells Axios the building would have approximately 70 apartments with the first floor used for restaurant, retail or commercial space.

  • The site could use an adjacent city-owned parking garage, allowing for more public space for things like outdoor restaurant seating, he says.

What's next: Construction timelines, total project costs and possible city financial incentives will be determined in coming months if City Council agrees Monday to negotiate with developers.

Separately, City Council on Monday will also consider a preliminary agreement with Kemin Industries to build a 320,000-square-foot warehouse adjacent to its DSM headquarters this year.

A photo of an empty lot across the street from Des Moines City Hall.
The vacant lot across from City Hall is less than 1/2 an acre and assessed at almost $773,000, according to the Polk County Assessor. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios
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