Sammons Financial Group on Thursday celebrated the start of construction for its new West Des Moines headquarters, a $65 million project that will bring the company’s approximately 500 Central Iowa employees under one roof and make room for 125 future positions.

"I think our new building sends a very strong message to the city of West Des Moines and to the state that we’re very serious about growing our business here," said Rob TeKolste, president of Sammons Independent Annuity Group, a unit of Sammons Financial Group.  

The headquarters site at 8300 Mills Civic Parkway is located near the intersection of Mills Civic and Jordan Creek Parkway, in an area that’s becoming a growing neighborhood of insurance headquarters. The groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site included Sammons CEO Esfand Dinshaw as well as Gov. Kim Reynolds, state and city officials, representatives from the development and construction teams for the project, and a number of Sammons employees.

Sammons Financial Group includes under its umbrella Midland National Life Insurance Co., North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, and Sammons Institutional Group, which specialize in life insurance, annuity and retirement planning products.

Reynolds noted that Sammons Financial Group will join 179 other insurance companies that have corporate headquarters in Iowa. Sammons first established an office in West Des Moines in 1999, and now nearly one-third of the company’s employees are based there, Reynolds said. "This company’s history is a tremendous story of growth," she said.

Scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2020, the six-story, 230,000-square-foot building will be owned by one of Sammons’ insurance companies, Midland National Life, and will replace three facilities that the company currently leases on Westown Parkway. The developer for the project is Dallas-based KDC, and the Weitz Co. is the general contractor.   

West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer observed that he has worked with Sammons through no less than 18 amendments to their building leases since 1999 in his capacity as chief operating officer with R&R Realty Group. "They are approved to build up to 330,000 square feet on this site, so they’ll have plenty of room to expand, and I hope they will," Gaer said.

In January, the Iowa Economic Development Authority board approved $2.44 million in insurance premium tax credits and $1.38 million in sales and service tax refunds for the project. Also, the West Des Moines City Council approved a 10-year, $13 million rebate of property tax revenues.

The building was designed jointly by HKS Architects, a global firm, and West Des Moines-based SVPA Architects.  

A significant feature will be a two-story amenity area for employees and visitors that will provide access to outdoor walking trails surrounding the property. Surface parking and a below-grade parking garage are also included in the project’s scope of work, according to Weitz.

"Weitz is honored to be working with Sammons Financial Group on its new corporate headquarters in an area we have extreme familiarity," said Mike Tousley, executive vice president and general manager of Weitz.

The headquarters is the fourth major office that Weitz will have built around the West Des Moines intersection of Mills Civic Parkway and Jordan Creek Parkway. Weitz finished the new corporate headquarters for IMT Insurance in December; it has also built corporate campuses for Athene USA and Wells Fargo.