On the left is a rendering of a professional soccer stadium proposed for an area southwest of downtown Des Moines. On the right is a rendering of a multiuse stadium proposed in former department store space at Merle Hay Mall, which straddles Urbandale and Des Moines. The two projects will be competing for funding through the Iowa Reinvestment Act Program. Renderings provided to the Business Record

Two ambitious development projects proposed for the Des Moines area would generate more than $405 million in new investment including a multiuse arena, an outdoor stadium, four hotels, a brewery and grocery store, the Des Moines City Council learned during a presentation Monday morning.

The two projects include the $128.6 redevelopment proposal for Merle Hay Mall and development in what’s being called the Capital City reinvestment district that includes the Dico Inc. Superfund site, areas south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway along Tuttle Street and a portion of the Western Gateway. The Capital City development proposal is valued at $276.7 million.

The two developments will be competing for the ability to use a portion of state sales and hotel-motel tax money to help pay for individual projects in their plans. The state, through its Iowa Reinvestment District Program, is providing up to $100 million in newly generated tax revenue to qualified projects.

The deadline to apply for the program is in two weeks.

Councilman Joe Gatto asked whether the city is hurting itself by submitting two project proposals for consideration in the state program. “Are we hurting our odds of getting something at either location by putting in applications for both?” he asked.

(Des Moines is applying for funds for the Capital City reinvestment district on its own; it is applying for funds for the Merle Hay project with the city of Urbandale.)

Replied City Manager Scott Sanders: “Both of these projects are going to be incredibly competitive against any other project in the state. It was fairly simple to allow both to move forward in the application process.”

The following are specifics for each proposed project, and hyperlinks are included with additional details from the council PowerPoint presentation:

Merle Hay Campus redevelopment
Size: 74.6 acres, which straddles Des Moines and Urbandale
Location: Merle Hay Road and Douglas Avenue
Total investment: $128.6 million
Amount requesting from Iowa Reinvestment District Program: $30 million
Some proposed projects and their estimated costs include:

  • 3,500-seat multiuse arena and training center in the former Younkers department store site and current Kohl’s department store building. Facility would be home for the Des Moines Buccaneers hockey team. Arena would include three additional sheets of ice for competition, training and recreation. Construction would be completed by December 2023. Estimated cost: $47.4 million.
  • Multistory hotel that would be attached to the arena and training center. Estimated cost: $20.25. (Construction schedule was not included.)
  • Relocation of Kohl’s into a 55,000-square-foot retail store that would be located on the former Sears site. The new Kohl’s store would face Merle Hay Road. Construction is expected to be completed by Spring 2022. Estimated cost: $10.3 million.
  • Conversion of Merle Hay office tower into senior residential tower. Construction is expected to be completed by winter 2024. Estimated cost: $12 million.


Capital City reinvestment area

Size: 71.7 acres
Locations: Former Dico Inc.at 200 S.W. 16th St.; an area between Grand Avenue and High Street and Fifteenth and Seventeenth streets; and area between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Tuttle Street and east of Southwest Ninth Street.
Total investment: $276.7 million, not including office and residential projects. If those developments were included, the total investment would be an estimated $540 million. An investment totaling $209.1 million includes the stadium, Global Plaza and other projects; investments totaling $67.6 million include 14 mixed-use projects that range in size from one to five stories.
Amount requesting from Iowa Reinvestment District Program: $27.1 million
Some proposed projects and their estimated costs include:

  • 6,300-seat multiuse outdoor stadium with three practice fields. The stadium, which would be owned by a nonprofit group, would be home to a professional soccer team. Construction would be completed by spring 2024. Estimated cost: $75 million.
  • 150-room, eight-story stadium hotel south of the stadium on the Dico site. The hotel would include a rooftop bar and view deck. Construction would be completed by December 2023. Estimated cost: $32 million.
  • Western Gateway Brewery at Seventeenth and Linden streets. The brewery would be located in the former Crescent Chevrolet building. It would include a beer hall, kitchen, all-season beer garden and patio. It also would include 9,000 square feet of office space. Construction would be completed by March 2022. Estimated cost: $12.2 million.
  • 125-room, five-story Western Gateway Hotel between Ingersoll Avenue and High Street and west of Fifteenth Street. Would have an extended-stay focus. Construction would be completed by January 2026. Estimated cost: $27.6 million.
  • Gray’s Landing grocery store at Southwest Thirteenth and Tuttle streets. Construction of the multistory, mixed-used building would be completed sometime in 2023. Estimated cost: $7 million.
  • 98-room, four-story Sherman Hotel at Southwest Ninth and Tuttle streets. Construction would be completed in 2026. Estimated cost: $16.2 million.
  • 5,600-square-foot Kum & Go convenience store at M.L. King and Southwest 16th Street. Construction would be completed by January 2023. Estimated cost: $7.6 million.
  • 2,000-seat indoor/outdoor music and event venue along Tuttle Street. Construction would be completed by January 2023. Estimated cost: $23 million.


“I think both of these projects are both strong projects,” Connie Boesen, a Des Moines councilwoman, said. “I would hope that the people doing the scoring will see that they are not just a metro project or a Central Iowa project, but that all of Iowa will be able to participate in both of these venues.”

Related articles:
Merle Hay Mall to become home of Buccaneers hockey team
Details of $535 million proposed soccer stadium project revealed