DES MOINES, Iowa -- Des Moines University (DMU) may be the second oldest osteopathic medical college in the country, but they say swapping 24 acres in Des Moines for 90 acres in West Des Moines is simple math. "We have the opportunity to dream bigger than ever about possible new programs, new clinical services, research potential, the sky is the limit," said Mark Danes, chief strategic communications officer at DMU.
Des Moines City Councilman Josh Mandelbaum says the grass may not be greener in West Des Moines. "I continue to believe that in the long term it is better for DMU as an institution and the city of Des Moines to stay at their current campus and grow at that campus," he said.
DMU recently signed a letter of intent to buy land between South Jordan Creek Parkway and South 88th street sold by W&G McKinney farms. Danes, said, "The the fact of matter is we cannot continue to grow the way we want to grow on this current footprint we have. So no terms would suffice because we are landlocked here."
DMU says it would take four years to make the move and plans to close on the property purchase in late April or early May. Mandelbaum says there is still time to make sure that education continues in Des Moines. "Whatever they see as the barrier to growth in Des Moines, we want to work through those issues and figure out solutions. As long as people are willing to keep talking and collaborating, there is always opportunity to solve a problem," said Mandelbaum.
In January, members of the Greenwood Historic Neighborhood Association voiced concern over a proposed parking lot expansion that would have destroyed a wooded area south of campus. It was enough for the city Planning and Zoning Commission to deny DMU's plans of expansion. "Because of some of the discussions we were having with the community here, it was a concern that we might not be able to expand the way we want to," said Danes. Mandelbaum added, "The folks at the Greenwood Historic Neighborhood Association, I think always they acknowledged the important role DMU played, they just wanted to make sure their concerns were addressed in the planning process."
West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer said no incentives were offered to DMU for the potential relocation.