The 10-story Hubbell Building at 904 Walnut St. in downtown Des Moines was constructed in 1912-13 and was home to Hubbell family interests including Hubbell Realty Co. Since its construction, the property had been owned by entities with ties to the Hubbell family. In January, the property was sold to an out-of-state group. The photo above is an exterior shot of the Hubbell Building. Below is the lobby of the building. Both photos were taken in the 1930s. Photos courtesy of CBRE|Hubbell Commercial

 

For more than a century, the 10-story Hubbell Building in downtown Des Moines has been owned by entities with ties to the family who helped shape the city through residential and commercial development and business creation.

That changed in January when a New York group purchased the historic building, paying Hubbell Realty Co. $3.17 million for the property at 904 Walnut St., according to Polk County real estate records.

“This building has been a long-time asset in our portfolio and has longstanding connections with our company,” Joey Taylor-Moon, vice president of marketing for Hubbell Realty Co., wrote in an email. “With the strong multifamily investment market, we felt now was a suitable time to accept offers from interested parties and ultimately decided the sale was in our company's best interest.”

Hubbell Financial LLC, an entity affiliated with Stern Properties LLC in New York, bought the property in a real estate transaction that was recorded Feb. 17. The property is valued at just over $2 million, according to the Polk County assessor.

Construction of the building was completed in 1913, and the building is considered one of Des Moines’ first skyscrapers, according to a history of the building submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Frederick Marion Hubbell, who died in 1930, is credited with building up Des Moines' financial and industrial institutions, according to the historical narrative. "Hubbell's ambition, business acumen, and drive were largely responsible for the establishment of the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa; for contributing to the city's mergence as a national insurance center; for the establishment of the Des Moines Waterworks; [and] for the amassing of great real estate holdings," the history states.

The Hubbell Building housed the Hubbell family business interests, including F.M. Hubbell, Son & Company Inc., a real estate firm established in 1887; Frederick M. Hubbell Estate, a trust established in 1903 to administer the family businesses; and Hubbell Building Co., established in 1913 to manage the building.

The second floor of the Hubbell Building headquartered those interests and about a dozen others, according to the historical narrative of the building. The remainder of the building was leased to other companies “and became a center for the corporate offices for central Iowa’s building industry.”

Among the companies located in the building was the architectural firm of Proudfoot, Bird & Rawson, which designed the Hubbell Building as well as several others in Des Moines. The firm was located in the building for 90 years.

The Hubbell Building showed Des Moines’ business community that an Iowa firm could design a skyscraper, according to the historical narrative. “The advent of skyscrapers … altered the city’s skyline. Previous to their appearance, the Iowa State Capitol had dominated the city.”

Hubbell Realty Co.’s corporate headquarters remained in the Hubbell Building until July 2002 when it moved to a new a facility in West Des Moines, Taylor-Moon wrote.

The building was converted into apartments in 2006. Historic and low-income housing tax credits helped pay the costs associated with the conversion.

Hubbell Realty Co. has sold several of its multifamily projects in recent months, including the Ashford Ridge complex in Urbandale and Velocity and Verve, developments in the company’s Bridge District in Des Moines.

Learn more: Read the historical narrative of the Hubbell Building that in 2004 was submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which through the National Park Service oversees the National Register of Historic Places.