City Planning for More Downtown Des Moines Apartments, But Not Everyone’s on Board

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Higher rise living space is planned for downtown Des Moines, including more than 500 rental units.

The city says 200 of those should be available by 2022, but some residents say that's a lot of homes to fill.

The Blackbird Tower will replace the Kaleidoscope at the Hub, soar 33 floors high, and offer more than 300 rental spaces. Another tower is a Mandelbaum property called The Fifth, which will offer 200 rental units and is also scheduled to be completed by 2022. All units combined, this adds up to more than 500 in those projects alone.

“I think it’s crazy. I just don’t think there is any need for it, but that’s just my opinion," Des Moines resident Jodi Aldini-Zepeda said. “The apartments they do have, are they vacant or filled?" she asked.

Kris Saddoris is an expert in metro housing.

“We are in a really healthy space, and we haven’t had growth in this community for a long time, and we are, and I think we just are not used to it," said Saddoris, the vice president of development at Hubbell Realty. “Again, we lead the Midwest for two years running."

But according to Zillow, an online real estate database, there are currently more than 200 units listed as vacant downtown.

“For me as a consumer, though, I think more options are good," Des Moines resident Mark goldsmith said.

Saddoris said The Fifth and Blackbird Tower will cater to that consumer.

“These units add a different layer, which I think Des Moines needs. We need a nice wide variety," she said.

The city says Blackbird plans to pay for a portion of the estimated $88 million project with tax increment financing.  Over $60M is being borrowed by the developer through traditional housing lending programs.

Channel 13 spoke to Blackbird Investment officials, who said the land transfer between EMC Insurance is not finalized and would not comment on the projected plans.