Jens5 LLC is proposing to build a three-story apartment building at 851 19th St. in Des Moines' Sherman Hill Historic District. The view above is looking to the east from 19th Street. The rendering below is looking to the southwest from Crocker Street. Architectural renderings by JCorp

An Ankeny developer is proposing to construct a three-story brick and glass apartment building on a vacant lot in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill Historic District.

The proposed project was endorsed by the neighborhood association, which sold JCorp Inc. the land at 851 19th St. on which the new building is proposed to be built.

The neighborhood group “wanted the structure to be a high-quality contribution, built to last like our existing housing stock,” Ryan Howell, president of the Sherman Hill Association, wrote to the Historic Preservation Commission, which recently reviewed the project. “The proposed level of brick detail is one feature that is exciting.

“Further, the developer has made revisions in response to feedback that have improved the design to even better contribute to and weave into our historic neighborhood,” Howell wrote.

The association sold the property to Jens5 LLC, managed by JCorp Inc., in May for $380,000, Polk County real estate transactions show.

The apartment building, with 30 one-bedroom units, would be located just north of three houses that were recently moved to 19th Street from the Drake neighborhood. The building is east of Smokey Row coffee shop and south of the Kathedral/KLM International.

In the 1920s, two-story commercial buildings were located on the property at 851 19th St., according to information provided by the city. In the past five years, at least two other projects were proposed on the site but were not completed, city documents show. In 2017, an 18-unit rowhouse development was proposed; a year later, a two-story office building was proposed.

Des Moines’ Historic Preservation Commission approved the project with some stipulations. It asked that the apartment building’s front door include more cast stone around the opening, that black metal handrails be installed on steps, and that if aluminum windows are used in the brick portions of the building, they resemble wood windows.

Commission members had asked whether the front of the building could face 19th Street rather than Crocker Street. Most of the area’s previous and current commercial buildings faced streets that ran north and south, commission members said. Duane Jensen, president of JCorp, said orienting the building so that it faced west wasn’t possible because of issues related to parking. 

Jensen told the commission his company has completed several historical renovation projects, mostly in Ames.

“We’re looking forward to starting a project from scratch and embracing the historical things but not necessarily mimicking them,” he said.