A proposal to transform a vacant retail store into an outpatient clinic for veterans was approved this week by Des Moines’ Urban Design Review Board.
Johnson Healthcare Real Estate was selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to develop the new outpatient clinic that will be located in the former Toys R Us building at 1211 E. Army Post Road at Southridge Mall. The clinic is expected to offer a variety of services including primary care, mental health, radiology, physical rehabilitation, prosthetic services and a pathology laboratory.

Plans include gutting the existing building, replacing the roof and constructing an addition on the north side of the building, according to city documents. New asphalt will be put down and landscaping updated.

Construction is expected to begin yet this summer with completion planned for spring 2021.
The former Toys R Us building was vacated by the national retailer in early 2018. The 45,515-square-foot building was constructed in 1991, Polk County assessor records show. The property in 2019 was valued at $2.96 million.

The board this week also gave final approval to plans for a $750,000 restoration of the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens along the Des Moines River. Improvements include upgrading the landscaping to include more flood-resilient trees and plants, installing a wood-planked boardwalk that would zigzag around new landscaping features, and redesigning a water feature north of the pagoda into a wetland area.