An 11-story building that stands inconspicuously above the East Village is due for a $9.5 million renovation that will create market-rate apartments, townhouse units and a restaurant.


East Village Tower Partners LLC, led by developer Jake Christensen, is seeking aid from the city of Des Moines for the project at what has been called the "invisible skyscraper" at 600 E. Fifth St. on the northern border of the East Village.


The building is more formally known as Heather Manor, which was built in 1970 as a senior citizens center and skilled nursing center. The building is more than 50 percent vacant, according to a report to the Des Moines City Council. The skilled nursing center will remain as a tenant.


A report from Matt Anderson, assistant city manager, said the building is "in partial foreclosure, and in need of complete replacement of the existing heating and cooling systems, as well as substantial work to remove asbestos, replace pavement and address storm water management issues on the site."


Preliminary terms of a $1 million economic development grant have been negotiated with the developer. The City Council will be asked today to approve that agreement. The funds will be used as a backstop as East Village Tower Partners waits for possible approval of Iowa Brownfield-Grayfield Tax Credits, which will be announced in July.


The city loan would be paid in 10 equal installments and would be discounted by the value of any tax credits obtained by the developers. East Village Tower Partners will not seek a tax abatement on a portion of the building's square footage, according to Anderson's report.


East Village Tower Partners proposes 103 market-rate apartments and a restaurant. The developer also plans to build at least 12 townhouse units on the site, according to Anderson's report.


According to county property records, the property currently is owned by a Le Mars-based entity. In June 2011, $192,478 in delinquent taxes were sold at tax sale. A tax payment due Sept. 30 is in arrears, with $76,150 in principal and $1,142 in interest due. The property has an assessed value of $3.17 million.


East Village Tower Partners also is seeking council approval to apply for an $838,350 investment tax refund and $115,000 sales tax refund from the state of Iowa. The entity is among four groups seeking state tax credits that would go toward the creation of 473 new or rehabilitated housing units in the city.


Others seeking tax credits are:

  • Fort Des Moines Restoration LLC in a $1,168,701 investment tax credit and $514,490 sales tax refund for a $26 million project constructing 154 housing units at 6700 Chaffee Road in the proposed Fort Des Moines Enterprise Zone.
  • Hubbell Realty Co.'s Melbourne IV LLC in a $256,990 investment tax credit and $66,750 sales tax refund for a $7.9 million project constructing 72 housing units at 5515 S.E. 14th St. in the SE 14th Street Enterprise Zone.
  • Equitable Lofts LLC in a  $1,707,375 investment tax credit and $549,890 sales tax refund for the $28 million renovation of the Equitable Building and creation of 144 housing units.