The former AIB College of Business' activities center has been sold to a group that will lease space to the Iowa Wolves minor league NBA team. Photo by Kathy A. Bolten

A partnership that includes the owner of Competitive Edge Advertising Specialty Manufacturing Co. is buying the activities center at the former AIB College of Business campus just south of downtown Des Moines, the Des Moines Business Record has learned.

David Greenspon, Competitive Edge’s owner, confirmed he has a contract to buy the building from the Village at Gray’s Lake LLC, operated by Tina Smothers of Stuart and Jason Grove of Adel. The $2.4 million sale is contingent on the city of Des Moines approving rezoning of the former campus to planned unit development to allow for a mix of uses.

The former campus currently is zoned for multifamily and light industrial.

Greenspon said the Iowa Wolves, an NBA G League team, will use the facility to practice in seven months out of the year; during the remaining five months, residents of nearby apartment complexes will be able to use the 25,000-square-foot activity center, built in 1999.

"The building is in great shape – it doesn’t even need paint," Greenspon said. "With everything that is going on in this area, it makes [buying the building] more appealing."

Smothers (pictured here, by a coffee bar in the commons area) and Grove finalized their purchase of the former business college campus in July. They were among five finalists to whom the University of Iowa considered selling the property. UI acquired the property at 2500 Fleur Drive in 2016 as a gift from AIB. In June, the Iowa Board of Regents approved selling the tract to Smothers and Grove for $7.5 million.

The 14.5-acre site includes seven buildings and an undeveloped 3.1-acre parcel. Smothers and Grove are renovating Fenton Hall East and West, located along the south side of Bell Avenue, and will lease the 93 one- and two-bedroom units after updates are completed.

Smothers and Grove have purchase offers for four other parcels, all contingent on the approval for the rezoning, Smothers said. The buyers, except for Greenspon, asked for anonymity until the deals close, she said. However, Smothers did describe the proposed uses of the property being sold:

- A private developer wants to buy the vacant 3.1 acres with access to Fleur Drive to build high-end condominiums.

- Wells Hall and two other buildings are under contract to a buyer who plans to lease space to individual office users.

- The person who offered $2.5 million for the administration building plans to relocate his or her business to the building and lease the remainder to other office users. The 35,000-square-foot white building sits on a hill with views of Gray’s Lake and downtown Des Moines.

When all the sales are complete, the former business college will be divided into five parcels, all with separate owners.

Smothers said she and Groves are surprised at how quickly the parcels were sold.

"We thought everything would go under contract within the next year," she said. "If everything goes as planned, we’ll close on every parcel by the end of the year. ... It’s a huge, huge, relief."

Smothers and Groves are renovating the former AIB student residences; 10 of the 93 units are nearly complete. Leasing has begun with some move-ins scheduled for November, Smothers said. New units will be available every couple weeks, she said.

Two-bedroom units are leasing for $1,250 per month; one-bedroom units, $999 per month. Utilities are included in the lease.

The lower level of the building includes coworking space with private offices and a conference room. In addition, there is space for bicycle storage and bathing area for pets.

To read previous coverage, click here.

To see a photo gallery that includes photos from Fenton Hall East and West before renovations began and after work was completed, click here.


Grand opening, ribbon-cutting

The Village at Gray’s Lake will hold a grand opening from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at 2270 Bell Ave. A ribbon-cutting is planned for 4:30 p.m. Apartment tours will be available. For more information, go to