Two Des Moines boards today recommended approval of a site plan for the proposed Waveland Trolley Loop park and interactive streetcar sculpture. The park would be located in the 4900 block of University Avenue, just east of the Waveland Golf Course entrance. Below is a photo of what the area currently looks like and an undated historical photo of the trolley using the turnaround loop. Architectural rendering and photos provided by Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering
A proposal to transform the site of the 49th & University trolley turnaround into a park with an interactive streetcar sculpture and interpretive signage gained support from two Des Moines boards today.

The Des Moines Landmark Review and Urban Design Review boards voted to support the site plan for the proposed Waveland Trolley Loop project. (A quorum of board members was not present at the meeting, so a vote to approve the site plan could not be taken.)

The site, located on the south side of University Avenue immediately east of the Waveland Golf Course entrance, includes curved pavement that is crumbling. An outline of the tracks for the trolley can be seen in cracks in the pavement.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is a celebration of the trolley,” Laura Peters, a Des Moines city planner, told board members.

The project began more than four years ago as a grassroots initiative led by community historians and streetcar advocates who wanted to preserve and recognize the significant historical contribution made by the city's streetcar and trolley system.

The 49th & University trolley turnaround was part of the Line No. 3 route that operated between 1901 and 1947, according to a city document. The turnaround was placed next to Waveland to encourage use of the golf course, the third city-owned course to be established in the U.S., according to the document. (Detroit and Boston were the first two cities to open golf courses.)

The property, owned by the city of Des Moines, was designated a local landmark in 2017. On Monday, the City Council voted to vacate the property so it could be developed into a site dedicated to recognizing the city’s trolley system. City officials are working on an agreement with the Waveland Park Neighborhood Association to maintain the property; the city will continue to provide mowing services, Peters wrote in an email.

The Waveland Trolley Loop project will include a paved area that replicates the path of the trolley tracks. A corten steel sculpture of a trolley will be located on the “tracks.” A ramp behind the sculpture will allow visitors to walk behind the structure and look out the trolley’s windows and pose for photos. Information about Des Moines’ trolley system and Line No. 3 will be placed around the area in interpretive signage.  

The project is estimated to cost nearly $300,000. Supporters have raised more than $298,000.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned in mid-November. Construction of the Waveland Trolley Loop site is expected to be completed by midsummer 2022.

RELATED: For more information about the Waveland Trolley Loop, click here. To donate to the project, click here.