A Chicago real estate investment firm has made what it calls a "backup offer" to buy the former Riverfront Y site from the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.

CA Ventures, which currently has a high-rise development project in the works in Iowa City, will take a back seat to Hubbell Realty Co., which recently received an extension on its offer to buy the site at 101 Locust St. with an eye toward developing a high-rise apartment building.

Hubbell's plans have been delayed as it tries to meet expectations of city officials who consider the site, with its location along the Des Moines River, a development plum among the last prime development sites downtown.

Hubbell President and CEO Rick Tollakson said last week that the due diligence period on the company's purchase of the site has been extended until late in September and that several months of meetings will be required to come up with a final plan for the site. Read more

Currently, Hubbell is considering a nine- to 10-story U-shaped structure that would open to the river and include a restaurant.

Hubbell has offered about $4.5 million for the property, enough to cover a guarantee by Des Moines Redevelopment Co. to purchase the property if a buyer could not be found. In addition, Hubbell is paying for additional fees and interest that are being incurred by the YMCA as it waits for the final sale of the property.

Des Moines Redevelopment agreed to extend its standby offer, which was to expire last summer, based on Hubbell's efforts to buy the site and reach a development agreement. Part of that agreement was that Polk County would pay $1 million to demolish the former Riverfront Y. The demolition has not been completed and the actual costs could exceed $1 million.

According to a letter of intent dated Feb. 5 to Jim Noyce,YMCA interim director, and Tim Sharpe, who represents the YMCA along with Linda Gibbs, both of CBRE|Hubbell Commercial, CA Ventures is offering $4.6 million.

JJ Smith, chief operating officer for CA Ventures, said the firm planned an "iconic" high-rise near the Principal Riverwalk with apartments above first-floor restaurants.

Matt Anderson, who leads the city of Des Moines economic development department, said his office has not had any discussions with CA Ventures.

At present, the YMCA has a contractual obligation to negotiate with Hubbell before it considers other offers.

"Hubbell has it under control and is working diligently," said Linda Gibbs of CBRE|Hubbell Commercial.

Tollakson said today that he is confident that company will complete the purchase.

"We are moving ahead as planned," he said. "We've seen nothing to indicate that we can't move forward. We are confident that we can make this happen."

CA Ventures is a real estate investment and development firm that started in student housing and has expanded into other areas of real estate development, including office and multifamily. Its holdings have included a portfolio of student housing in Ames.