The City of Des Moines is accepting proposals for the development of the lot at 5th Street and Court Avenue.
As Court Avenue encroaches, it becomes more than a lot: more like a lot of potential.
“Well the city owns it, so we have a lot of leverage,” said councilman, Chris Hensley.
And there are a lot of suitors.
A movie theater, an indoor farmer’s market, more housing. Each developer making a play for the valuable space and for the city’s eye.
“You know a lot of times people come in on their own land and we’re like ‘Meh, we don’t like that idea much,’” Coleman said. “But this place, we don’t have to sell it unless we really like the idea.”
The front runner might be Hy-Vee, which has teamed with Knapp Properties to propose a 35,000 square foot grocery store.
It would fill an obvious retail hole, downtown.
“Now it has to be designed in a really cool way,” Coleman said. “An urban way that fits what we want that look like and feel like down there, and it has to be affordable.”
Not every council member agrees a small market is ticket. Carl Voss actually lives downtown. He says downtown residents typically travel to the big stores on Fleur or Ingersoll.
“The people would have to radically change how they buy groceries,” Voss said. “Buy groceries for like 1-2 days at a time rather than a week’s grocery.”
The city will look at the five proposals at the end of the month and the winner could break ground this year.
Across the river, work could already be underway on an extended-stay hotel at East 2nd and Locust.
“It’s going to be great for the places that are restaurants and shops,” said Coleman, “it’s going to solidify their business and that’s really important for the city.”
The convention and visitor’s bureau says an extended stay hotel is needed for contract-employees working short term in Des Moines.
It would be one of two new hotels under construction in the East Village in 2014.