Drive into Downtown Des Moines (DSM) from all points west and you'll enter an exciting zone of urban development and neighborhood rebirth — Western Gateway.
The businesses, retailers and residents of this westernmost arm of Downtown DSM have reinvented the entry corridor in a decidedly urban mix, breathing new life into beautiful historic buildings, adding refreshingly modern architecture and surprising the eye with serene green spaces. The mix is eclectic with fine dining, coffee shops and corporate neighbors — all surrounding a park and entirely appropriate for Iowa's capital city.
Arts & Education
Western Gateway Park is a 13-acre space located at the western entrance into Downtown DSM. It incorporates a mix of green space and buildings as well as private and public spaces, including:
- The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park — 4.4 acres and home to 28 sculptures by some of the world's most celebrated artists. It was designed as an outdoor museum in the open air. Learn more about the artists and the park.
- The Des Moines Central Library — Designed in 2006 with an unconventional building shape by renowned British architect, David Chipperfield. The Library was architecturally designed to serve as a link between the park and Downtown DSM, and includes Des Moines' first green roof.
- The University of Iowa John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center — Developed/built for continuing education geared toward the Downtown DSM business community. A water runnel spans across a block and a half of the Education Center and Library.
- The Temple for Performing Arts — A Masonic Temple built in 1913 that was renovated by private owners and now houses a theater, offices, restaurants, the Des Moines Symphony Academy and a high-traffic Starbucks.
The Park is an exemplary collaboration between the public and private sectors, including partners such as the City of Des Moines, John and Mary Pappajohn and other private donors, the Des Moines Art Center, Operation Downtown (Downtown's safe, clean and beautiful initiative), private redevelopment and the Downtown DSM business community. In fact, the park has been named a “Frontline Park,” a nationwide competition sponsored each year by City Parks Alliance, a nationwide organization dedicated to urban parks. Frontline Park awards promote inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship across the country.
Western Gateway Park is in the heart of the new mixed-use district and is a memorable entry into Downtown DSM. It is an attraction for the entire community and a tourist destination for Downtown DSM.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Enjoy a night on the town in Western Gateway Park in Downtown DSM. Grab a bite at favorite restaurants like Americana or Malo. Check out a jazz concert at the Des Moines Social Club. And the flavors change weekly at Black Cat Ice Cream. The old fashioned ice cream shop is on the northwest corner across the street from Western Gateway Park.
Anchoring the western end of the Western Gateway Park neighborhood is the headquarters of Meredith Corporation, whose sprawling campus of historic and modern buildings spans either side of the street. As publisher of the venerable Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Meredith relied on its own landscaping and gardening expertise to develop the seasonal prairie gardens at the edge of Western Gateway Park.
Other large corporate campuses such as Nationwide, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kum & Go and Federal Home Loan Bank now also call Western Gateway home. Many of these new, multi-story buildings are LEED certified and designed by renowned architects.
The area has also attracted large franchises and local restaurants and businesses, successfully working to connect with the residents, workers and visitors of Downtown DSM. Other businesses have chosen to office in Western Gateway Park, aware of the benefits it presents as a positive place for networking and growing a business around a park that attracts a large network of individuals.
In addition to economic development, there is now a flurry of activity in the area that has catapulted the overall vibrancy of the neighborhood.
Western Gateway hosts multiple events, streets lined with food trucks, busloads of students on field trips, visitors snapping pictures, runners and Downtown DSM workers enjoying the space. It is common to see weddings taking place and bridal parties capturing photos by the famous Nomade sculpture. Some of the region’s largest festivals, such as the Des Moines Arts Festival®, the World Food & Music Festival, 80/35 Music Festival and social gatherings are also held in the space. The interest in the park span generations from couples strolling on a Sunday morning to educational tours for students.
The space is also part of Recycle DSM, Downtown DSM's public space recycling initiative. The program, which started with eight receptacles in the Historic East Village, eventually expanded to 20 receptacles there, 30 in Western Gateway and six surrounding the Iowa Events Center, helping to keep Downtown DSM clean, green and a place where people want to work, live and visit.