Blackbird Investments Turning Fort Des Moines Into Affordable Housing

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Halfway abandoned, Fort Des Moines is about to undergo some serious changes that can be seen as early as next week.

“We’re renovating seven barracks and three horse stables, and they’ll be transformed into 142 units for affordable housing,” said Rachel Wegmann, Marketing Director of Blackbird Investments.

Blackbird Investments will start construction as early as next week on a $40 million project that will turn part of Fort Des Moines into income-restricted housing.

“We’re seeing this as a great opportunity for young families to come and start and have a great living experience,” said Wegmann.

They say it will erase some of the stigma of what income-restricted housing must be.

“There seems to be this association with affordable housing and not great living experience, so when people do see the renderings they think, 'there’s no way that can be affordable.' On the inside, it'll feel like true living quarters, but you'll certainly feel there's some history. You’ll see some exposed beams, you’ll see the possible exposed brick that may be on the interiors. If there's something cool historically that we want to make sure we don’t cover up we'll make sure it stays exposed,” said Wegmann.

Mel Pins is the president of the Somerset Neighborhood Association. He says this project means good things for the south side's future.

“Ten years ago we had a strategic plan for zoo expansion, renovations at Southridge Mall, and somebody please do something with those barracks buildings. And Blackbird has stepped up to make that investment, and we’re just thrilled. Ankeny has had so much growth to the north, there’s no reason we cant have that growth to the south,” said Pins.

Blackbird received some help for the project by securing federal, state, and city tax credits. The first building is expected to go online in the spring of 2018.