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New Design for Iowa Events Center Hotel Revealed, but Over-Budget

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DES MOINES, Iowa – A look at the $100 million Hilton convention center hotel planned for downtown Des Moines was revealed Wednesday.

The convention center hotel, which will be attached to the Iowa Events Center, has a modern, L-shaped design, featuring about 330 rooms over eight stories. A four-room presidential suite, a handful of smaller suites, a 10,000-square foot ballroom, pool, meeting rooms, executive lounge, salon and restaurant, and bar are featured amenities of the project. Additionally, the building will connect to the Des Moines skywalk system, and feature a surface parking lot on the east along with 120 parking spaces below the building.

Representatives from the design and construction team, including Weitz Co., DLR Group, RDG Planning and Design, hotel consultant Ellis Katz, and Hilton Worldwide Inc. – the operator of the hotel – presented a slide-show of a preliminary ┬ádesign to the Iowa Events Center Hotel Corp. board, the non-profit body established by Polk County and Des Moines officials to oversee the project, Wednesday afternoon. The Iowa Events Center Hotel Corp. board took no formal action, though it was supportive overall of the plans.

“That’s the last niche for the Iowa Events Center, is a headquarters hotel; that’s what so many people say we’ve yet needed,” said Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly. “Particularly when we want to book major sporting and conventions, we’ve always needed this headquarters hotel, and I think this is really the last really big thing we’ve needed.”

However, the $100 million project is already running into budget problems. The team of representatives reported cost overruns, driving the projected cost over-budget by 5 to 7 percent. Though the construction budget has a $5 million contingency built in, officials say they’re working on ways to cut down project costs. But Connolly says it’s way too early to be worrying about the budget on this project, and she’s confident the designers and architects will trim down the cost in ways the rest of us won’t even recognize.

“We won’t know until maybe the end of the year, first of the year, before we really know about budget,” she said. “There’s a lot to talk about with Hilton, who’s the major design on this. They’ve got to go through it, take a look at it. And yet with our architects and our construction team. So, as I said, this is the first time we’ve seen it and gone through it.”

The development agreement between Polk County and the City of Des Moines will be presented on September 22 at the Des Moines Urban Design Review Board meeting. Knapp Properties CEO Gerry Neugent, chairman of the convention hotel board, says he’s awaiting feedback from the county and city before moving forward on approval of the design. Neugent says the board could approve the final contract in December, with construction beginning in February. However, the public won’t see completion on this project until March 2018.

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