CITY COUNCIL: Mall, Plaza, Row House Move Forward

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It was a busy night for the Des Moines city council on Monday.

Tax Increment Financing or “TIF” has brought a wave of new development to the area around Merle Hay Mall, and the city will use more of the same to help the mall itself.  An eight-theater cinema is planned thanks to $400,000 a year of TIF money.

“The investment that they’re putting in, they’re getting a rebate on their taxes in the future,” said city councilman, Halley Griess, “so it’s not that the city is hiding them a check.”

One of Des Moines’ last standing “row houses”, Norden Hall, looks like it WILL be spared the wrecking ball.  The plan is to move it from its spot on the Capitol grounds to the corner of East 4th and Grand in the East Village.

“It will add to the character of the East Village,” said councilman, Brian Meyer, “I mean a lot of that stuff was built in the same time period.”

Council set a hearing for June 24th to move the plan forward.

Nollen Plaza will also see new life and get a new name.  It will be called “Cowles Commons” named for the family of Gardiner Cowles, who guided the Des Moines Register to prominence.  It gets new landscaping, new artwork and an all-new water feature.

City councilwoman, Christine Hensley, says such an important, central hub needs to look good.

“I just think it has tremendous opportunities and possibilities for additional activities and interests in the community.”

Construction on the new Cowles Commons should begin this summer.