It isn't an earthquake, but land is moving in downtown Des Moines
A development group, the YMCA and Polk County trigger a property shift that could shake things up
Steve Lacy's name was misspelled in the original version of this article.
Friday, December 07, 2012 7:00 AM
Who are the players backing Des Moines Redevelopment Co.?
• Steve Lacy, Meredith Corp., chairman
• Larry Zimpleman, Principal Financial Group Inc., vice chairman
• Michael Gartner, owner of the Iowa Cubs, secretary treasurer
• Knapp Properties Inc.
• JSC Properties Inc.
• Principal Financial Group Inc.
• Meredith Corp.
• Ruan companies/ Bankers Trust Co.
• Kum & Go LLC
• Hy-Vee Inc.
• EMC Insurance Group Inc.
• MidAmerican Energy Co.
• Michael Gartner
• Denny Elwell
• Wellmark Inc.
• The Graham Group Inc.
• The Waldinger Corp.
• Baker Group
• Baker Electric Inc.
• Fred Hubbell
• West Bank
*Source: List provided by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
The purchases last month of an abandoned building and a majority interest in a parking lot have set the stage for development of a convention hotel to support the Iowa Events Center.
Des Moines Redevelopment Co. made the buys for nearly $2.7 million. Des Moines Redevelopment didn’t have a dime in the bank to cover the purchases, but it did have the names of 18 individuals and businesses that pledged to guarantee up to $500,000. That helped to generate a $9 million line of credit from Bankers Trust Co. that, according to the mortgage document, also was used to buy the properties.
The redevelopment group hopes to parlay its resources to acquire other land downtown to spark another development renaissance.
Des Moines Redevelopment was modeled after the Des Moines Development Corp., which was dissolved in 1999. Examples of successful projects developed following land acquisition under this model include Nationwide Agribusiness in the Western Gateway and Water Street Brownstones/Vine Street Lofts.
Des Moines Redevelopment made its purchases at roughly the same time that deeds were being swapped between Wellmark Inc., Polk County and the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. Those swaps will provide much needed space for the county’s various court services, give the YMCA a new home with expanded facilities, and offer naming rights to Wellmark for that facility.
Recent Downtown Land Purchases:
Des Moines Redevelopment Co.
1: 700 Fourth St., former Allied Insurance Co. building, bought from Wells Fargo Financial Services Inc. for $2.1 million.
2: 700 Sixth Ave., bought a slightly more than 70 percent interest in a parking lot for $569,490. St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church also has an ownership interest in the parking lot.
3: 222 Fifth Ave., former J.C. Penney Co. building obtained in swap with Wellmark Inc., for use by Polk County attorney and courts.
611 Fifth Avenue LLC Members are Knapp Properties and Jim Cownie’s JSC Trust
4: 600 Fourth St., paid Wells Fargo Financial Services Inc. $1.6 million for a parking lot that is near other property owned by the two companies and immediately south of the former Allied building.
YMCA of Greater Des Moines
5: 501 Grand Ave., the former Polk County Convention Complex, future downtown location for the YMCA, whose board has approved buying the building from Wellmark for $4.5 million. The insurer obtained the building from Polk County in exchange for the former J. C. Penney building and $500,000. Wellmark will donate a nearby parking lot to the YMCA and will have naming rights to the new facility.
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