About half of the exterior walls have been erected for 115,000-square-foot class A warehouse at a transloading facility under development at 200 E. 15th St. in Des Moines. Construction of the warehouse is expected to be completed by early January. Aerial photos by Duane Tinkey


Paul Cownie isn’t sure whether to credit luck or good planning for the minimal affect that rising costs and availability of materials have had on development of the transloading facility under construction on about 30 acres southeast of downtown Des Moines.


Nationwide, developers, general contractors and others have reported costs for products made of steel, lumber and concrete surging 20% or more and difficulty in obtaining some types of material.

However, Cownie said subcontractors’ bids for the project were returned before huge price spikes for materials occurred.

“We had all of our concrete, all of our electrical, all of our steel … done before the world got lit on fire from a construction and materials standpoint,” said Cownie, Des Moines Industrial’s CEO.

Work on the long-anticipated rail-based terminal project began in March. The $25 million project is a transfer site at which bulk materials and other large items are loaded onto semitrailers from rail cars or onto rail cars from semitrailers. The Des Moines area is considered a prime location for such a facility because of the city’s close proximity to Interstate Highways 35 and 80, two of the major trucking corridors in the United States. In addition, the site has direct access to Iowa Interstate, Norfolk Southern and BNSF railroads, making it an important Iowa rail-based transportation facility.

Planning for the facility has been in the works since at least 2012.



About half of the precast concrete panels that form the exterior of the 115,000-square-foot warehouse facility are erected, Cownie said. Next steps include installing joists, putting on the roof, pouring concrete in the interior of the building, and completing interior finishes including electrical and plumbing.

Construction of the building is expected to be completed by early January, Cownie said. Des Moines Industrial will lease the facility to a tenant. In addition, Des Moines Industrial will operate the laydown yard and oversee all transloading.

Installation of about 15,000 linear feet of rail infrastructure is expected to be done by Nov. 1, Cownie said. “That means we’re going to be able to start inbound and outbound transloading via our rail infrastructure in November.”

The transloading will be of products that move directly between rail cars and semitrailers or that can be stored for a short time outdoors, Cownie said.

“We’re going to be able to unload steel beams, rebar, lumber, rocks and things like that,” he said. “Anything that would need to stay dry, we will be able to put into [the class A] warehouse. We'll have rail connectivity to that warehouse that is going up right now.”

Related article: Building a jack-of-all-trades rail transloading facility in Des Moines