HOTEL REVAMP: Tenants May Be Forced Out

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People living in the Randolph Hotel on Court Avenue may soon be forced to find a new place to call home.

“It’s kind of terrifying. I’m used to having a roof over my head, used to knowing where I’m going to sleep,” said John Rutkowski, who currently pays month to month to live at Hotel Randolph, “It’s kind of a shock to us, because none of us really knew this was coming.”

The Des Moines City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the preliminary terms of agreement for the redevelopment of Hotel Randolph and the two buildings on either side of it.  The project would turn Hotel Randolph into apartments.

The 90 rooms would be renovated to make way for 55 apartments. Developers plan to renovate the first floor into restored store fronts. The cost of the entire project is $15 million. The city of Des Moines would be responsible for $2.5 million that will be paid in installments over 10 years.

All council members voted in favor of the project, saying it was a long time coming. Council members hope it spurs further development in the area. But before the developer moves forward, the council wants details on how people currently living in the Randolph will find new homes.

“If this were the final terms of agreement I wouldn't support it tonight. I don't think we are far enough along trying to relocate people,” said Councilman Coleman before the vote.

The city manager's office said that's already is a big priority. “The developer is sensitive to that issue, and has set aside a fund in their project to help bridge that gap for these people as they transition into other housing,” said the Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson.

The developer hopes to start construction later this fall.