A Court Avenue parking lot would disappear under five-story structures that are focused on living, playing and shopping uses, judging by five proposals submitted to the city of Des Moines.
The proposals, all marking a first step in the city's efforts to identify a developer that would build out a 2.3-acre parking lot that also serves as a prime location for the Downtown Farmers Market, were submitted Friday and revealed today by the city.
The city began acquiring the land in 2000, eventually paying nearly $3 million. The area has confounded developers in the past. However, the current batch of proposals are backed by development groups that say they have the financial resources, creative zeal and professional commitment to see their projects to completion.
Proposals include a full-service Hy-Vee Inc. grocery store, an entertainment center that features a movie theater and bowling alley, apartments and parking galore, indoor farmers market and a beacon that would would draw the eye to the downtown district.
Des Moines Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson said a plan will be recommended to the City Council by Feb. 24.
The five proposals:
Knapp Properties Inc., Hy-Vee Inc. and OPN Architects Inc. seem to have answered a pent-up desire for a downtown grocery store. Their plan calls for a 35,000-square-foot store fronting Court that would offer Hy-Vee's full range of services, including a pharmacy, flower shop, Midwest Heritage bank office, bakery and restaurant.
If so desired, the store could provide downtown grocery delivery. Windows could swing, slide or pivot to reveal an open-air market. By Hy-Vee's estimates, the store would employ 75 full-time workers and 128 part-time workers who would serve downtown's 8,000 residents and 80,000 workers.
The store would be topped by four floors of apartments, with a total of 60 units. The developers also propose a 256-stall parking garage on the south side of the property, with an additional 150-space surface parking lot, and a pocket park.
Mandelbaum Properties envisions more entertainment options for the Court Avenue entertainment district, proposing a two-story movie theater, with a mezzanine for office and service retail spaces, three floors of parking and top-floor bowling alley. Retail spaces also would be available along Fourth and Court avenues.
The Opus Group, the Minneapolis company that sparked the hunt for proposals after it sought City Council approval in December for a residential and commercial project at the site, teamed up with Confluence architects of Des Moines and Minneapolis-based ESG architects propose a five-story structure with 180 luxury apartments above 15,000-square-feet of commercial space at Fourth and Court. The apartments would feature a swimming pool, and residents would have access to private, below-grade parking. Public parking would be provided at ground level.
Hubbell Realty Co. proposed a commercial and residential development called Court Avenue Station that would feature a pocket plaza at Fifth and Court and a tower called
The Beacon, an internally-lit, passive cooling tower cloaked in art. The area would be "an integral part of the way-finding network downtown," Hubbell said in its proposal.
In addition, the company plans plans walk-up residences along Fourth, across the street from Hubbell-developed condominiums, and a parking garage at Fifth. Hubbell also envisions allowing the farmers market to expand into a public/private courtyard with first-floor tenant spaces and restaurants.
In all, Hubbell is proposing two main buildings, one of the north side of the property that would have 108 residential units and 20,350 square feet of commercial space. Another building would have 52 residential units and a 363-stall parking garage. The Hubbell team consisted of Slingshot Architecture, Reynolds Urban Design and Walker Parking Consultants.
Sherman Associates Inc. also proposed an indoor farmer's market.
The company, which is renovating a complex of buildings anchored by the Hotel Randolph at the northwest corner of Fourth and Court, also proposed 121 units of market-rate rental housing, 14,400 square feet of street level commercial space, including the indoor farmers market, 10,000 square feet of flexible covered courtyard space and 580 parking stalls, with about 375 available for public parking.
The plan was prepared by Sherman and Des Moines architecture firms Confluence and Substance. Here is a rendering of Sherman's proposal for an indoor farmers market.