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GROWING DOWNTOWN: Historic Building Vote

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About ten years ago the City of Des Moines began its effort to get 10,000 people living downtown. Right now the population sits at about 6,000. But in the past few years, city officials say the population has surged, leaving about 98 percent of apartments at capacity. The city council’s Monday night vote means more space to fill.

The council approved a plan for Nelson Development and the development group Foutch Brothers to re-purpose the historic Des Moines building on 6th and Locust downtown. The city and developers have been working on this project for the past year.

“That’s always been a goal of the city council to increase the downtown residency and for over ten years we've been working to find options for housing in the downtown area,” said Phil Delafield, the Community Development Director with the city.

The plan is to turn the upper floors into 136 apartment units, 70 of which would be affordable housing, the rest would sell at market rate.

Officials with Downtown Des Moines said it continues to be one of their main goals to create more options for potential residents- bridging the gap between the two extremes of higher priced and low-income.

“Well obviously every community in the country wants young talented professional people and we`re no exception to that and this only helps to have a vibrant downtown community that attracts that talent, is really the goal, but again I think there`s something for everybody,” said Tim Leach, the Director of Economic Development with Downtown Des Moines.

But the building wouldn't just benefit residents, the lower floors would be home for retailers, businesses, restaurants, or serve as office space.

“Mixed use is very popular. You want to have the retailer on street level and then have apartments to live above and that`s something that`s highly desirable for us” said Leach.

In addition, they plan on creating a small park, and connections to the skywalk for a pedestrian level entry.

Developers say they have already seen interest from restaurant groups for some of the space, but haven't discussed it in detail yet because the building isn't scheduled for completion until 2014.

They plan to start construction sometime next month.