Abbey Gilroy wants to spread some development fever in a southeast Des Moines neighborhood with the completion of a $1.7 million retail and residential building at Southeast Sixth Street and Hartford Avenue.

"I'm anxious to see if it becomes contagious for that area," Gilroy said. "We're hoping it will do something special for the neighborhood."

Gilroy, executive director of the Neighborhood Development Corp., said the project was an effort to spruce up the McKinley School/Columbus Park neighborhood just south of the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. The project followed the construction of a new senior living center.

With less than an acre on a long and narrow lot, the development required some creative thinking. Slingshot Architecture came up with the design, which was carried out by Koester Construction Inc.

"The whole design team showed up and provided a landmark building," Gilroy said.

Terrus Real Estate Group LLC is marketing the residential and retail units.

The building has 12,000 square feet total for three retail spaces on the first floor. The unit fronting Southeast Sixth is equipped with a grease trap to make it restaurant-ready. A Curves fitness center has leased 1,500 square feet at the opposite end of the building.

Foot bridges will carry visitors to the retail shops from a parking lot and over a water-retention area that will be planted in wetland grasses and plants.

The second floor has four 750-square-foot one-bedroom apartments and eight 500-square-foot suites, with rents ranging from $600 to $750 a month. There is a rooftop deck for residents.

The first four renters have moved in. Curves was expected to open by the end of July.

Neighborhood Development Corp. also will go before the Des Moines Plan and 
Zoning Commission on Thursday to discuss plans for Madison Flats, a 27-unit apartment building on a city-owned lot at 1720 Indianola Ave., south of Principal Park near St. Anthony's School.

The $4 million project is located at the site of a former roofing company, where contaminated soil must be removed and shipped out of state.

Gilroy said development of the lot has confounded private developers because of the need to remove soil. She hopes the project will trigger additional development in the area.

"We feel like we have to do a few things to catch the attention of folks," she said.