A long-abandoned building at 1201 Keosauqua Way could get new life under a proposal by Aust Real Estate LLC to renovated the structure. Architectural rendering special to the Business Record
A long-abandoned building located on the most heavily traveled downtown street could receive new life under a $4.8 million proposal to renovate the multilevel structure.

Aust Real Estate LLC is proposing a historic restoration of the property at 1201 Keosauqua Way. The company is seeking state and federal historic tax credits for the project.

The brick structure was built in three phases between 1910 and 1928 on a triangle-shaped parcel on the north side of Keo Way. For years, the building was home to Reliable Rug and Carpet Cleaning Co.

The renovation would include updating the building’s mechanical and HVAC systems, installing new windows and elevator, removing asbestos and adding new stairs inside the structure.

"We’re super excited to bring it back to its creative significance," Mindy Aust told members of the Urban Design Review Board this week.

Aust said leasing of the 18,912 square feet of space could include offices or retail, including a possible restaurant. At least one residential unit is planned in on an upper floor.

"We’re thrilled with the interest in the reuse of the building," said Ryan Moffatt, Des Moines’ economic development coordinator.

The project would receive tax-increment financing over 20 years, capped at $505,356, or about 11% of project costs, according to city documents. It is estimated that the property would generate $1.1 million in tax revenue over 30 years.

The property in 2019 was valued at $162,000, according the Polk County Assessor's Office.

"We feel it’s best to get aggressive so we can get this project done." Moffatt said about the financing package. "During my tenure here at the city, we’ve had plenty of other proposals to come in on this project, and this is the one that’s gone the furthest."

The Urban Design Review Board approved the proposed financing package and the project’s final design.

Renovation of the property is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by mid-2021.


What about that billboard?
A billboard at the top of the building at 1201 Keosauqua Way will remain there until at least 2036, Ryan Moffatt, Des Moines’ economic development coordinator, told members of the Urban Design Review Board.

"If we could get rid of the visual clutter, we would," Moffatt said. "In this case, there’s a lease that’s good until 2036" that also has extension rights.

"It’s something that’s going to with the building for quite a while, although it is a nice revenue stream for the building’s owners."