Axios Des Moines

Picture of the Des Moines skyline with DSM written across it.

💨 Exhale, it's Friday — let's just try to limit those late-night munchies this weekend!

😎 Weather: Sunny and breezy with a high of 56°.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines members Forrest Corson and Dina Dulaney!

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 895 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: This is our moment

Data: Sports Reference, NCAA; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios
Data: Sports Reference, NCAA; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

It's been a magical, generational moment in our state as the world watches Caitlin Clark.

Why it matters: Clark has captivated the country while rewriting NCAA records and selling out arenas Taylor Swift-style, bringing fanatic viewership to the historically undervalued sport of women's basketball.

Driving the news: Clark is now women's college basketball's all-time scoring leader and just 18 points away from topping the men's NCAA record set by "Pistol Pete" Maravich in 1970 — a once-considered untouchable 3,667 points set before the introduction of the three-point line.

How it started: Iowa women's basketball associate head coach Jan Jensen told IPR this week that Clark's meteoric rise to becoming a household name is "perfect timing" built upon previous generations of Iowa women and local support for women's athletics.

  • When Clark was in 6th grade, Jensen watched her play in her hometown of West Des Moines and noticed she already had personality and three-point range.
  • "Boy, you could see she was special," Jensen told IPR.

State of play: The emergence of name, image and likeness deals have also helped Clark earn this moment. She's on cereal boxes and State Farm commercials.

  • Her style of play, with jaw-dropping passes and logo shots, alongside swagger and confidence, lends itself to social media buzz.

💭 Linh's thought bubble: Your newsletter writers are admittedly not huge sports viewers.

  • But there's something about this collective moment behind Caitlin and the Hawkeye women that feels so positive and exciting for our community.

What's next: The Hawkeyes play Ohio State at noon Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena before heading to the Big Ten Tournament and March Madness.

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2. A new Financial Center plan

A  photo of the Finanical Center in Des Moines.

The Financial Center was constructed in 1972 and has been primarily used as commercial office space with ground-level retail. Photo: Courtesy of the Polk County Assessor

The first 15 floors of downtown's largely vacant Financial Center would become about 200 housing units under a resolution that goes before DSM City Council Monday.

Catch up quick: Wells Fargo previously occupied much of the building and Walgreens closed its store there this week.

  • Building owners had in 2020 proposed converting much of the 25-story edifice into a hotel but are pivoting to multi-family housing due to post-pandemic market changes.

Details: The ground floor would include a restaurant with business space on the second floor.

  • A fitness center, clubroom, rooftop deck and pool amenities would be located on the third floor with a dog park on the fourth.
  • Construction would begin later this year with completion in 2026.

Follow the money: The previous agreement was for a $59.3 million project that could receive nearly $10.6 million in incentives.

What's next: The council's approval is needed to meet a March 18 application deadline for tax credits.

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3. 🚗 Thomas Beck Road diet

A photo of Thomas Beck Road.

This area of Thomas Beck Road will have fewer lanes and a sidewalk later this year. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A section of Thomas Beck Road is narrowing from five lanes to three.

Why it matters: The project, approved last month by the Des Moines Transportation Safety Committee, is part of a larger effort to improve roadway safety after DSM scrapped the proposed $215 million Southwest Connector project in 2018.

Catch up quick: A transportation plan released in 2022 identified nearly 40 projects in the city's southwest corridors, including the realignment and a roundabout at George Flagg Parkway.

  • The Thomas Beck Road project is budgeted at $2.5 million and is among the first projects of the larger plan.

Zoom in: The road diet is between Bancroft and Southwest Seventh streets and will include a five-foot-wide sidewalk that connects to the Meredith Trail.

🍻 Fun fact: Thomas Beck was a local coal mine company president who immigrated from England in the 1860s, according to his 1933 obituary.

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4. Post du jour: Buying some pitchforks

A tweet showing a drawn pentagram and all the Menards locations

Tweet via Des Moines Register reporter @AddisonLathers

As local journalist Erin Murphy put it, you're a Midwesterner if you hear this in a certain tune: "Hail Lord Satan at Menards."

5. Your weekend plans

Illustration of a concert ticket with "Weekender" written on it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Friday

🎎 Celebrate "Hinamatsuri" at the Des Moines Art Center. Known as "doll's day" in Japan, the art center is showcasing Hina dolls, tea ceremonies, origami and a kimono fashion show this weekend. Free!

🎶 Play Taylor Swift trivia, make friendship bracelets and drink themed cocktails at Uptown Garage Brewing. 6pm. Free!

Saturday

🤤 Chow down at Forest Avenue Library's Soul Food Festival. 11am-2pm. Meals: $10, with a la carte items and dessert also available.

🛍 The flea market is here! Shop antique items at the Varied Industries Building at the fairgrounds. 9am-4pm today and 9am-3pm tomorrow. Free!

Sunday

🍎 Attend a class on growing common fruit trees at the southside Earl May Garden Center. 2pm. Free, but registration required.

More events this weekend

6. 🧶 1 fun thing to go: Caitlin in crochet

A photo of a Caitlin Clark doll.

📣 Go #22! Photo: Courtesy of Millie Peters

Caitlin Clark is now immortalized in crochet.

Catch up fast: Local fabric artist Millie Peters makes a series of handmade dolls, including some that depict showgirls, that dance to music and can sell for more than $1,000.

  • She also designs special shirts for contestants to wear on "The Price is Right."

State of play: The Clark doll is stationary and any future creations of the UI star won't be sold to avoid potential legal problems linked with using her image, Peters tells Axios.

Yes, but: Peters wants to donate the doll to Clark for an online charity auction of the basketball star's choice.

  • The artist would add movement to the doll if Clark approves.

☎️ The bottom line: Caitlin, call Millie!

Worthy of your time: Hourly workers — especially women and young adults — are working less than before the pandemic.

Editor's note: Yesterday's Ear item about the Krause Group was corrected to note that the 55% increase in cost is for Kyle Krause's new Italian soccer stadium, not the stadium in Des Moines.

This newsletter was edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Lucia Maher.