A conceptual drawing of an 11-block area of Des Moines' Market District that is proposed to be redeveloped. Rendering by Design Workshop
 
A proposal to redevelop an aged industrial area east of the Des Moines River would include the development of a multi-modal transportation network for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, Des Moines’ Urban Design Review Board heard during a presentation this week.

"We're really optimistic about the potential that [the redevelopment] has for Des Moines," said Jim MacRae, principal of Denver-based Design Workshop. "I think this can be not just a demonstration of really good urban development, but I hope … we can actually tell the story through the metrics of how this was how this improved the environment, how this improved the economy, how this improved the social factors within downtown."

District Developers LLC, a consortium that includes developer James Cownie's JSC Properties and MidAmerican Energy Co., is proposing a $750 million redevelopment of an area south of the railroad tracks between East Sixth Street and the Des Moines River.

The redevelopment, which would occur over 15 years, includes new infrastructure and the construction of an indoor-outdoor event venue, hotel, and apartments and condominiums.

The proposed redevelopment project "has the makings to be one of the most significant and largest urban redevelopment projects in the history of Des Moines," Ryan Moffatt, Des Moines’ economic development coordinator, told board members this week.

The 11-block, 39-acre redevelopment area is currently valued at $677,000. When the development is complete, the assessed value of the area is estimated at $245 million, according to a city document.

Before construction of new buildings can begin, however, much of the infrastructure must be replaced, obsolete buildings razed and environmental remediation completed.

District Developers estimates that it will cost more than $30 million to prepare the area for redevelopment.

The proposed infrastructure redevelopment plans include:

• Lining streets with trees, plants and bioswales whose root systems will absorb stormwater. Rainwater irrigation systems would carry water away from area to the river.
• Installing semi-permeable pavements that would absorb moisture.
• Installing bike lanes between sidewalks and street parking spaces.
• Installing wide sidewalks to encourage pedestrian use.

The board approved the preliminary designs for the area. The design team is expected to return with a more detailed presentation.

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