Developers Jake Christensen and Tim Rypma have proposed a residential and commercial project that would include a parking ramp on a parking lot at East Grand Avenue and Robert D. Ray Drive, directly east of Des Moines City Hall.


According to a report to the Des Moines City Council, the project would complement development at a private parking lot at 219 E. Grand on property owned by 219 Grand LLC, an entity controlled by businessman Jim Cownie's JSC Properties Inc. Cownie, his son, Sloan Cownie, are other partners in the parking lot project. Bill Knapp also could join the investment team, Jim Cownie said.


That project proposes six stories, with 12,000 square feet of first-floor retail topped by 90 apartment units. It will require 150 new and replacement parking spaces.


The Christensen and Rypma project would place a ramp at the center of the City Hall parking lot, with retail and other commercial uses along East Locust Street and housing along East Grand.


Up to 600 parking spaces would be needed to accommodate parking needs for the proposed project in the City Hall lot and the 219 E. Grand development.


Christensen and Rypma would present a multiphase development, beginning with the parking ramp and followed by a mix of residential and commercial along East Locust, then housing and office. 


The development plan reserves space along Robert D. Ray Drive for a future civic building.


Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson said in a report to the council that the supply of commercial and residential development in the East Village lags market demand, with apartments, retail and restaurant spaces nearly 100 percent occupied.


"Staff believes that timing is opportune for redeveloping this large city-owned site that serves as a key connector between the East Village neighborhood and commercial activity and Riverwalk and the western side of downtown," according to Anderson's report.


At this point, city staff is seeking the council's approval to continue discussion for the development, including financing. Preliminary terms of agreement will be negotiated with the developer and presented to the City Council, with an Oct. 1 deadline for approval of a preliminary agreement.


If that deadline is missed, staff could recommend issuing a request for proposals for the City Hall site or seek other developers, according to Anderson's report.