The Face of Des Moines in 2018

March 6, 2018

des moines development

Downtown Des Moines has seen a lot of growth in recent years, partly because there’s always multiple impressive construction projects going on to enhance the city. Lozier has been around for over 110 years, and our business has changed and improved with the Greater Des Moines area. We’re proud of our constantly changing city and wanted to highlight a few Des Moines developments that improve the way people in Downtown work, live and play.

Proposed Projects in Downtown Des Moines

The potential construction projects that could be going up in Downtown Des Moines could have a huge positive impact on Des Moines development and growth in years to come. It’s hard to say the significance these buildings will hold for the future of Downtown, but we believe these improvements could attract more people to the Greater Des Moines area.

The Fifth

 The Fifth Des Moines

Photo credit: Des Moines Register

Appropriately named after its location on the corner of Fifth and Walnut, this colossal 32-story building will be the latest change to the Des Moines skyline, which hasn’t been drastically altered since 1997 when the EMC tower was completed.

The Fifth will include an impressive two-story movie theater, indoor climbing facility, retail and office spaces and more. The towering structure will also offer various Downtown Des Moines living options, including floors for upscale condominiums or hotel guests. Along with these attractions, The Fifth will connect to a large parking ramp for residents, guests and a portion open to the public. This massive Des Moines development project is estimated to be complete between 2019-2021.

Hotel Fort Des Moines Restoration

 Hotel Fort Des Moines

Photo credit: urban dsm

The nearly 100-year-old hotel in Downtown Des Moines was closed to guests back in November of 2015 and has been waiting for a facelift for over two years. The hesitation to start this project is due to the historical significance of Hotel Fort Des Moines, a Hawkeye Hotels property. The proposed plans would allow the long-established landmark to maintain and refurbish the historical features on the first and second floors, which consists of the original two-story ceilings in the hotel lobby. All upper floors would be gutted and reconstructed once the proposal is approved.

Locust Street Bridge Renovation

 Des Moines Locust Street Bridge Construction

Photo credit: urban dsm

Originally built in 1909, the Locust Street bridge is the oldest concrete arch bridge in the Civic Center Historic District, according to the City of Des Moines, and will soon undergo a much-needed repair. The construction project should start by the end of 2018 and should be finished by 2020. Soon, the Locust bridge over the Des Moines River will be a concrete beam bridge similar to the new Grand Avenue bridge replacement.

Grey’s Station (The Linc)

 Grey's Station Des Moines

Photo credit: Des Moines Register

Hubbell Realty has plans to create the largest luxurious Downtown Des Moines living area with fabulous views and a small community feel. Grey’s Station will span a 75-acre plot near the Raccoon River on the south edge of Downtown. This massive Des Moines development project would turn an old and abandoned rail yard into an incredible, upscale neighborhood, which would benefit the face of Des Moines and increase Downtown Des Moines living options.

The apartment housing of the vast Grey’s Station property is known as “The Linc” and plans to hold approximately 195 units of assorted studio apartments to three-bedroom living spaces. Amenities include a pool, dog park, courtyard, shared community space and a rooftop patio with arguably one of the best views of the Downtown Des Moines skyline.

”The Linc” is just a stepping stone to Hubbell’s master plan of a “small city within a city” that could bring 3,000 to 5,000 new residents to Downtown Des Moines living spaces. Grey’s Station will hold 1,100 housing units consisting of townhouses, condos, apartments, detached single-family homes and potentially senior living options.

The Blackbird

 The Blackbird Des Moines

Photo credit: urban dsm

This new project will take the place of the destroyed Younkers department store, which burned down in 2014. The Blackbird complements the recently-renovated Wilkins Building across the street. The modern 33-story tower will consist of a retail space, lobby and public courtyard on the first level. Above will be a skywalk level connecting to Walnut Street that has shared workspaces, a conference room and 336 apartment units. Residents will have access to the entertainment lounge, roof deck and pool on the top floor.

Current Des Moines Development & Construction

The ongoing construction Downtown may seem troublesome when busy roads start getting blocked off, but new Des Moines development projects are what keep our wonderful city growing! These great improvements are adding new and exciting attractions to the area and provide more Downtown Des Moines living options.

Des Moines Heritage Center

Des Moines Heritage Center

Photo credit: Des Moines Heritage Trust

Coming soon to Downtown Des Moines is a historical museum filled with the history of our beloved city. A nonprofit organization called the Des Moines Heritage Trust had a mission to preserve the remarkable depot building on E. 5th Street, and it will be redeveloped into a functional space. The historical depot will house a museum and gallery for the historical past of Des Moines, and an outdoor event space and meeting room were included as a new addition for heritage organizations to utilize. The event center will be completed this year and will provide an educational, cultural and rental venue for Des Moines residents.

Polk County Courthouse Restorations

 Des Moines Polk County Courthouse

Photo credit: Preservation Iowa

Another extensive project that is being completed in phases is the improvements being made to the Polk County Courthouse. The goal of this four-phase plan is to reduce leased space and repair the deficiencies of the significant state landmark. It’s been a long renovation process, but the final stage will get started in 2018. Here’s an overview of the progress that’s already been made and the strategy that will be executed this year.

Phase 1 was finished back in November of 2014, and focused primarily on the exterior of the monumental structure and a couple internal improvements. They started by cleaning the limestone and repairing the exterior lighting to give the building a refreshed look. Once the outside was taken care of, the Polk County Courthouse relocated the main entrance of the building and secured circulation zones for detainees, holding areas and restrooms.

Repurposing old buildings for new functions was the goal of phases 2 and 3, and was completed in 2016. The old JCPenney department store was developed into the Polk County Justice Center, which contains the City Traffic and Juvenile Court stations. The previous county jail was transformed into the Polk County Criminal Court Building.

The final phase is projected to begin this year, and will contain extensive interior renovations to the Polk County Courthouse. This historic structure will include Family Courts and Civil Trials once the Des Moines development is finished, and should provide the Greater Des Moines area with a more optimal justice system.

Grand Avenue Bridge Replacement

 Des Moines Grand Avenue Bridge Renovation

Photo credit: City of Des Moines

Another major bridge renovation is happening in the Downtown Des Moines area. The Grand Avenue bridge stopped allowing traffic through in September of 2016, and will be fully renovated by summer of 2018. It was originally built in 1918, and will be undergoing some major improvements. According to, this Des Moines development will include 14 foot sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, a westbound bike lane, three traffic lanes (two westbound and one eastbound) and parallel parking on the south side. The Grand Avenue bridge will mimic the other Downtown bridges with an arch theme and painted metal railings with minor lighting enhancements.

Wellmark YMCA

 Des Moines Wellmark YMCA

Photo credit: urban dsm

The Wellmark YMCA construction project consisted of two phases that should affect a large number of Des Moines residents. The the first phase consisted of a remodel of their gym, running track and racquetball and handball courts, which was completed in 2015. Currently, the highly anticipated YMCA Aquatic Center is receiving the final touches of this substantial plan, and will be open to the public by March this year. The Aquatic Center will hold a four-lane, 25-yard pool to be used for swimming lessons and group fitness classes and an Olympic-sized pool. The enormous 50 meters by 25 yards pool will be one of only three Olympic-sized pools in the state.

Cityville on 9th

 Cityville on 9th Des Moines

Photo credit: Hubbell Realty

Soon there will be a nine-building apartment complex on 9th Street that will add a lot of Downtown Des Moines living options with perks. Cityville on 9th is being built on the former Des Moines-Pittsburgh-Des Moines steel plant, and has been under construction since 2012. Upon completion, there will be 339 market-rate one- and two-bedroom apartments for sale. Below the modern multi-family units is 55,000 square feet of retail and commercial space for the convenience of the residents.

Principal Campus Improvements

 Des Moines Principal Campus

Photo credit: Greater Des Moines Partnership

One of the largest Downtown Des Moines corporations will be undergoing construction projects until 2020 to complete Principal’s large renovation project. Principal Corporate Headquarters, the workplace for over 6,000 employees, will be making many improvements to their multi-building campus that involves interior upgrades, modernization and technology improvements. This Des Moines development project will affect thousands of residents in the Downtown area.

When most people think about Principal Corporate, they think of the tallest building in Downtown Des Moines at 801 Grand, however, some of the most significant renovations are happening at their front door located on 711 High Street. The main goal of all these renovations is to improve the work atmosphere for Principal’s employees and promote additional Downtown Des Moines development. They plan to do this by creating flexible and non-traditional office spaces and eliminating cubicles which are not ideal for the Principal work environment.

Completed Downtown Des Moines Projects

Over the last few years we’ve seen a wide range of projects completed in the Downtown Des Moines area and we’re glad that the city is continually growing! We’d like to reflect on a number of projects that have been finished in recent years and reflect on the impact these ventures have had on the Des Moines community.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

 Des Moines Botanical Garden

Photo credit: urban dsm

Fundraising from the Greater Des Moines area spurred the renovation of the Botanical Garden Center. Back in 2015, the full addition was complete, and several new gardens were introduced along the Principal Riverwalk. Now, the beautiful gardens and outdoor space make a great spot for a weekend adventure or a nice venue for any event, wedding reception and more!

Fourth + Court (Hy-Vee)

Fourth and Court Des Moines

Photo credit: Knapp Properties

The massive Fourth and Court project was completed just over a year ago on February 28, 2017. This major Des Moines development has made the lives of many Downtown civilians much easier with the addition of an easily accessible grocery chain, apartments available and a parking garage.

The Hy-Vee is similar to the local stores you love, but set to an enormous scale compared to some of the other locations. Along with the full-service grocery store, the Forth + Court Hy-Vee includes a deli, bakery, pharmacy, food counters, growler filling station, Starbucks Coffee and a Market Grille restaurant with a patio on the ground floor.

Above the mega grocery store are three floors of apartments, with 81 units total. For the convenience of the apartment residents and Hy-Vee employees, there is an adjacent parking deck where staff and residents park on the second floor and Hy-Vee customers can park on the first floor.

317/322 E. Court (Quonset Hut)

 317 and 322 East Court Des Moines

Photo credit: City of Des Moines

The combined site at 317/322 E. Court Avenue was remodeled just last year. The architects preserved the existing warehouse and office buildings and transformed them into a modern commercial retail and office space. One of the new quonset huts is home to Peace Tree Brewing Company’s newest brewery and taproom. Slingshot Architecture was excited to help this local favorite branch out with a stylish location in Downtown Des Moines.

Des Moines Playhouse

 Des Moines Playhosue

Photo credit: bnim

A local entertainment hub enhanced the experience for Downtown Des Moines folks and visitors back in 2014. The Des Moines Playhouse addition included a renovation of the Mainstage theatre with 400 seats, more costume and storage space, a new glass lobby, an educational wing with classrooms and a repurposed main lobby. They also expanded their parking lot to accommodate more guests.

The Playhouse is already trying to get more improvements underway. The beloved theatre is looking to update their facility to be more accessible to all visitors. Their goal is to include an accessible ramp to the stage, handrail improvements and restroom renovations to improve the events for all theatre-goers. The performance space will receive attention with a new sound system, lighting options and a catwalk. The main lobby is also getting enhanced to improve the experience with new concessions and signage to honor the donors that make all these renovations possible.

Blank Park Zoo

 Des Moines Blank Park Zoo

Photo credit: Blank Park Zoo

If you haven’t been to the Blank Park Zoo in the last few years, the visit to see their new developments would be worth the trip! In recent years they’ve expanded from a small 23-acre lot to a full 103-acre zoo. The six key expansion areas of the Blank Park Zoo included the Gateway to Africa, Australian Adventure, AH Blank Park Entrance, Discovery Center & Plaza, Sea Lion & Penguin Exhibits and hands-on educational components. This Des Moines development plan has brought joy to residents and visitors of all ages.

Along with exciting new exhibits, the Blank Park Zoo has dreams to make improvements to the park with more walking trails, an endangered species carousel, a dugout canoe ride and a tram sky ride. All of these aspirations will be rolled out as the zoo receives more funding.

Riverwalk Red Multi-Use Trail Bridge

 Des Moines Riverwalk Trail Bridge

Photo credit: City of Des Moines

Once upon a time the Riverwalk Bridge was an old railroad bridge, but has been transformed into a walking and biking trail in recent years. Just last year though, the city decided to raise the bridge to gain additional hydraulic capacity and control flooding. The Riverwalk Red Multi-Use Trail Bridge was raised 4.5 feet in 2017 to allow water to flow downstream more easily.

Serving the Greater Des Moines Area for Over 110 Years

Lozier was established in 1906 and has developed a history with the city of Des Moines. We’re proud to be a part of such a wonderful community and build trust with our customers by providing reliable HVAC services over the years. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Greater Des Moines area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Thanks for choosing Lozier Heating & Cooling for over 110 years!