We’ve learned through our research and implementation of Capital Crossroad initiatives that the core of our region, the City of Des Moines, and its health are vital to the whole region’s prosperity.
Our leadership and volunteers have worked to maintain and strengthen the vitality of our city and its neighborhoods. The region is only as strong as its center. Through investments of time, money, and energy in downtown Des Moines as well as the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods, we are attracting large-scale events and spurring tourism.
Through Capital Crossroads 2.0, we are continuing in our initiatives to bring aggressive, bold, and innovative strategies to the City of Des Moines, improving life downtown and in adjacent neighborhoods.
Business and civic leaders from across Des Moines held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Iowa Events Center hotel. The end result will be a 330-room hotel connected to the Iowa Events Center downtown.
While many cities across the country have seen downtown reinvestment and revitalization, Des Moines stands out for the breadth and diversity of its projects for a community of its size and the transformational impact of these investments on our regional reputation. Greater Des Moines regularly tops “best of” lists for young professionals; much of this appeal is attributed to downtown growth and the amenities it has attracted.
As the number of people living, visiting, and working downtown increases, it can be reasonably assumed that additional retail investment will be attracted to the district. However, more can be done to help prime the pump for downtown retail and assess the key trigger points to spur additional investment. All development classes will be supported by increased capacity in downtown amenities that help attract new investment, visitors, residents, and companies to the district.
Conduct a downtown Des Moines retail analysis and attraction study
Support the aggressive marketing of downtown for tourism, entertainment, meetings, and conference/convention activities
Enhance downtown Des Moines activity and event programming
Continue advancing projects to bring additional workers, residents, and visitors to downtown Des Moines
Assess potential opportunities to complement downtown Des Moines river recreation projects
Study the viability of construction of a major downtown sports stadium
A strong ingredient to the region’s success is Des Moines’ role as the regional center for jobs, cultural facilities, and transit. With approximately 80,000 workers and growing, downtown continues to be a regional jobs center. Many of these jobs are office professionals from entry level to senior management. As rents increase, professional entry-level salaries do not meet rising downtown rents. Moreover, the recent growth in population and investment in downtown includes a number of service-related businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, which historically pay low wages. It is imperative that downtown continue to provide housing that meets the wide spectrum of regional demands and especially the needs of all employees working in this diverse job center.
No single solution to this challenge will be sufficient. Strongly informing these efforts will be Housing Tomorrow, Central Iowa’s first-ever regional plan for affordable housing.
Continue aggressive efforts to support mixed-use, mixed-income housing downtown
Develop a Downtown Des Moines Workforce Housing Plan
Support transportation options that promote urban living and increased affordability
Multiple studies of the built environment show individuals are increasingly seeking pedestrian-scale, walkable neighborhoods and activity districts as their communities of choice; this is true of both urban and suburban districts. Des Moines already has taken steps to advance walkability and urbanity in its downtown and should continue to ensure that growth meets these criteria. Still, disconnections have arisen over the years with the construction of freeway interchanges, dividing neighborhoods. We hope to “stitch together” the region in more ways than one, enhancing and improving mobility.
Implement strategies to encourage downtown mobility alternatives
Expand downtown Des Moines skywalk system planning in the context of broader downtown walkability and mobility initiatives
Ensure that parking structures and policies are consistent with downtown urbanism goals
Launch an initiative to reconnect neighborhoods bisected by infrastructure construction
Economically healthy neighborhoods are the lifeblood of any community. While downtown Des Moines is thriving, certain downtown-adjacent and close-in neighborhoods have not seen the same levels of investment and face their own set of challenges. The Capital Core Neighborhood Improvement Committee has served as the gathering place for stakeholders and ideas focused on enhancing the vitality of Des Moines’s core neighborhoods.
Ultimately, reshaping urban neighborhoods as destinations of choice will enhance the desirability of all of Greater Des Moines. It is essential that we effectively engage our neighborhood leaders to serve as advocates, ambassadors, and facilitators in order to achieve positive results. We’ll implement strategies that involve tactics from our full spectrum of Capitals to address this challenge.
In May 2014, the Des Moines City Council endorsed the Capital Core Neighborhood Improvement Implementation Plan as official city policy and has made progress implementing many of its recommendations. Much work has been done so far to stabilize and revitalize Des Moines’s inner core neighborhoods. Public input noted that the Viva East Bank! program for the Capitol Park, Capitol East, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Park neighborhoods has been especially effective and could serve as a model for additional neighborhood improvement efforts. More work has yet to be done, but using this model as a base for our efforts will make for a strong strategic foundation.
Continue to seek resources to advance the Neighborhood Improvement Implementation Plan
Use the Viva East Bank! program as a model for additional neighborhood improvement initiatives
Implement effective corridor-improvement strategies
Launch an anchor-based community wealth building initiative
Continue use of key nonprofit neighborhood revitalization resources, tools, and personnel
Support and create district-based financing and investment tools