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Building Downtown Des Moines for Future Families, Residents and Visitors

Building Downtown DSM

September 11, 2023

After attending college and law school in Iowa City, Brandon Brown got a job in Downtown Des Moines (DSM), moving into the Arlington and Hallett Apartments at 13th and Locust Streets. At the time, there wasn’t a lot going on in Downtown DSM aside from the first downtown Starbucks opening, which was a big deal. Later, Brandon moved into the Sherman Hill neighborhood, where he met his now wife. For a few years they moved out of downtown to the South of Grand area, but returned in 2019 after their son was born and before welcoming a daughter, two years ago.

Brandon likes the walkability and spontaneity of Downtown DSM. Thanks to the 4th + Court Hy-Vee and a variety of restaurants, there’s an easiness to living downtown, and he likes that he can minimize his time in a vehicle, too. Instead, he can walk — or ride a bike thanks to convenient bike paths across Downtown DSM — to get to where he needs to go.

Downtown Neighborhood Association Opportunities

Brown is aware of the perception that it’s just young professionals living in apartments downtown, but he sees many other families living in the area, too, and since becoming President of the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA), he meets even more of them during events, volunteer opportunities and visiting places like the Science Center of Iowa.

Once he had children, it became important to Brandon to give back. He felt a responsibility to create fulfilling and positive experiences for his son and daughter, and the DNA allowed him to seek out and get to know civic leaders, city council members, police department employees and others who help to make Downtown DSM what it is today. In his role with the DNA, Brandon and his Board can give special attention to three main things:

  • building up social events;
  • creating volunteer opportunities; and
  • advocating for changes and presenting solutions to Downtown DSM issues

In his day-to-day, he works to raise awareness of the DNA within the community, meeting weekly with business owners, residents, HOAs and more. He is also working to create a network of communication between downtown entities to ensure that those living and working downtown are heard. He encourages those in the community with public-facing roles to speak at DNA meetings. Recently, they welcomed Sergeant McKinney (Des Moines Police Department), Amber Lewis (City of Des Moines), Melissa O’Neill (Central Iowa Shelter and Services), Josh Mandelbaum (Council Member), Angie Arthur (Homeward) to discuss the unsheltered in Downtown DSM and drive home the idea that businesses, organizations and residents should be working together to make Downtown DSM successful.

Brandon urges everyone to consider Downtown DSM as a place to live and work. But don’t delay! — The longer you wait, the more difficult it may become to join the 10,000+ Downtown DSM population — thanks to all the activities, programs and more on the horizon. There is a lot of anticipation for what’s to come including the ICON Water Trails developments. And all that adds to an already awesome downtown scene that includes the weekly summer and fall Downtown Farmers’ Market, the I-Cubs fireworks on Fridays after a home game, all-season accessible skywalks, the world-class art at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the educational opportunities like Bergman Academy, St. Augustine and the public Downtown School, a part of the Des Moines Independent Community School District, where his own children attend.

The benefits of living and working in Downtown DSM are plentiful. If you’re currently living or considering living downtown — or just want to make a difference in the city where you work — you can get involved with the DNA, too. Memberships are $20 per year for residents and non-residents. Businesses shouldn’t feel left out. The DNA is currently restructuring those memberships to spotlight businesses for downtown residents.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options. Find event information and follow @downtownDSMUSA on Facebook and Instagram for other news, tips and events happening downtown.

Recently ranked a top five metro for number of economic development projects among metros with a population of 200,000 to 1 million, growth continues in and around Downtown Des Moines (DSM) in part thanks to unique public-private partnerships that allow community leaders to work together to invest in, grow and improve the city center. Learn more about other recent development projects in Downtown DSM.

Downtown DSM, Inc. Team

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It's also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.