The Quad Cities-based owners of one Des Moines landmark have bought the historic Griffin Building at 319 Seventh St. and plan to "repurpose" the structure, which was renamed in honor of civil rights activist Edna Griffin, who is often referred to as the "Rosa Parks of Iowa."

Des Moines Griffin Building LLC paid nearly $1.8 million for the six-story Griffin Building, once the location of a Katz Drug Store that refused to serve ice cream to Griffin, her then 1-year-old daughter and two others because of their race. The year was 1948 and case led to a landmark anti-discrimination ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court.

The limited liability company is managed by John Bradley, president of Revive Community Development Co. LLC, a Moline, Ill.-based investment and development group that specializes in the repurposing of historic buildings. The seller was a partnership headed by Greater Des Moines real estate developer Jim Conlin. 

Another Revive entity paid $2.1 million last year for the historic Midland Building at 206 Sixth Ave. Bradley said his organization is contemplating the next steps in the future uses of the Midland and the Griffin buildings.

The Griffin Building originally was called the Flynn Building when it was completed in 1885 as the home of Peoples' Savings Bank, a financial institution associated with Martin Flynn, the railroad builder and farmer whose holdings included what is now Living History Farms in Urbandale. The original bank building was a modest structure that was enlarged in the early 1900s by Flynn's son.

Conlin's group bought the building in 1991. It was renamed the Edna M. Griffin Building in 1998, the 50th anniversary of her encounter at Katz Drug and the successful efforts to change the operation's discriminatory practices.

Bradley is a Des Moines native who is well aware of the building's history. He said any repurposing of the building more than likely will include a residential component, and he has been contacted by people who would like to have a restaurant on the first floor.

"We plan to make a significant investment and repurpose the building," he said.

Bradley said his group is interested in acquiring more Des Moines properties.

"We're hoping to make more investments in Des Moines," he said.