Gray's Station Advances Living, Community + Recreation in Downtown DSM
Downtown Des Moines (DSM) neighborhoods are generally one of two things: historic or fairly small in size. Gray’s Station is neither. The newest urban neighborhood underway in Downtown DSM spans nearly 80 acres with modern for-sale townhomes, a rental apartment community, urban parks and the newly opened bike trail and pedestrian bridge. When it’s all said and done — about one decade and three phases from now — this $250 million neighborhood will connect more than 1,100 people to Downtown DSM, and equally as important, to vast green spaces.
Creating a Community
But it took years of planning, vision and development to get where we are today. (But seriously, check out this land transformation from 2017 to 2019)
One of the biggest premises for Hubbell Realty Company to collaboratively create this community was to fuse the vibrancy of Downtown DSM’s bursting music, food and art scenes with the serenity of places like Gray’s Lake and Water Works Park. It’s also worth noting Water Works is more than double the size of Central Park in New York City, so the more connections, the better.
The Chris and Marcie Coleman Bridge
The first piece was the crucial bridge connection over the Raccoon River, tying Gray’s Station to Gray’s Lake. The $4 million bridge, now aptly named after former city councilman Chris and his wife, Marcie, Coleman, took nearly one year to build. Although bridges usually aren’t in Hubbell’s wheelhouse, along with the City of Des Moines and experienced trades, the bridge is now a lighted destination for Iowans and visitors looking to post to the ‘gram.
Gray’s Wetland Basin
Over the next few years, more urban parks — also called ‘pocket parks’ — will be added to the neighborhood and the transformation of the wetland basin system will also take shape.
Along the bike trail, hidden from the naked eye, more than 45,000 native plants lay underground. Within a years’ time, the basin will have tall grasses, water filtration basins and a flourishing wildlife habitat. This system is designed to handle the 390 acres of water runoff from downtown, filtering the water before it enters the Raccoon. The overall redesign and filtration system are a small step in the right direction for stormwater management and the trek to improve water quality.
While it may sound posh, pocket parks are something of a national movement. These parks are small in size, but huge in impact when talking about giving urban residents direct access to space and nature. The pocket concept was originally introduced back in the 1950’s and historically has been seen in larger cities such as Chicago and San Francisco and in international cities like Paris.
While green space may not be hard to find here in Iowa, that’s what makes it even more expected, especially in a close-knit neighborhood like Gray’s Station. The room to grow, relax and rejuvenate is an important part of everyday life — and Iowans assume its availability.
Without a doubt, one of the first buildings you’ll notice when you drive past Gray’s Station is LINC, an apartment community and the gateway into the nearly 80-acre neighborhood. This two-building community will have 227 apartment homes with studio, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom options with layouts that change from floor-to-floor. A Cross-fit inspired gym will be open 24/7 and a rooftop patio will have a unique view of downtown looking toward the northeast.
Outside, a cabana, pool and dog park created from shipping containers dons the murals of local artist, Ben Schuh. The pieces originally sat along MLK Jr. and 19th Street before finding a new home at Gray’s Station.
In the first-floor retail space, LINC will welcome its first local business, Mad Meatball, a popular pizza shop formerly located in the Historic East Village, later this spring. Mad Meatball is known for its homemade pizza and pasta sauce and their new patio will be hard to pass on a summer night. A local nail salon will also call LINC home later this year — pending official announcement — and there’s still a few more commercial spaces available to lease.
LINC’s first building will open to the public in mid-2020, with hopes to welcome its first residents around the same time. The second portion of the community, located just to the south, is estimated to open around December of 2020 or early 2021.
As for the rest of Gray’s Station, the progress can be seen for acres during a drive, bike ride or run along the trail near Gray’s Lake. You should check it out sometime.
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.