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Chair's Column: Dico Site Redevelopment Adds to Placemaking Momentum

Dico Site Redevelopment

February 25, 2021

As we continue to work toward economic recovery, one of the most important things our community can do is continue to invest in major projects. Communities that invest in themselves even during tough times are communities that thrive during good times. Greater Des Moines (DSM) is one of those communities.

We have a number of major placemaking and economic development projects in the works in DSM. These projects continue to take significant steps forward.

Bringing Professional Soccer to Iowa

In February, Pro Iowa, the campaign working to bring professional soccer to Iowa, Iowa Soccer Development Foundation, the owner of the Pro Iowa Stadium and Global Plaza, Krause+, the real estate development arm of Krause Group, and the City of Des Moines announced more details on plans to transform the Dico Superfund site into a welcoming space for sports, community gatherings and events. A few days later, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a settlement that will officially transfer 43 acres of the site to the City of Des Moines for development.

Transforming the Dico site has long been a priority for the city, and this is the right project at the right time to get it done. The Dico site is proposed to become the Pro Iowa Stadium and Global Plaza. The 6,300-seat stadium will house a USL Championship professional division two soccer team beginning in 2024. The Global Plaza will host pre-and-post-game gatherings and community events to provide a welcoming space for all residents from all backgrounds. Public seating, landscaping, restaurants and other retail will contribute a variety of opportunities to aid in activating the area. Recognized as a global sport, the Pro Iowa soccer stadium is another amenity that will help attract talented, diverse young professionals to DSM. The project will create a magnet for new business development and boost civic pride for our region.

Merle Hay Mall Campus Redevelopment

This project is one of a long list of major projects planned or in the works. Another to keep an eye on: The City of Urbandale, City of Des Moines, Polk County, Merle Hay Mall and the Des Moines Buccaneers are working on a transformation of the Merle Hay Mall Campus that would include a 3,500-seat hockey arena and entertainment venue occupying the former Younkers department store, an ice sports training and competition center occupying the current Kohl’s department store, redevelopment of the former Sears store site into a new Kohl’s store and additional retail, upgrades to the Merle Hay Mall buildings and surroundings and the addition of affordable housing to the site. The project is expected to produce an economic impact to the State of Iowa of nearly $127 million and over 1,000 jobs.

Other Major DSM Projects


  • Lauridsen Skatepark – the largest skatepark in the U.S. — is scheduled to open in Downtown DSM in May.
  • The Central Iowa Water Trails project continues to move forward, as recently the Des Moines Zoning Board of Adjustment approved conditional use permits for three access points at Prospect Park, Birdland Marina and Harriet Street.
  • Des Moines Public Schools and Drake University are planning for a new $19.5 million stadium complex adjacent to Drake’s Knapp Center that will host local football and soccer games.
  • Construction on the Des Moines Transload Facility will begin next month.
  • Des Moines International Airport continues to take steps to build a new terminal.

These are just a few projects that are taking place.

In an age where people can increasingly live anywhere, we want them to choose to live right here in DSM. It is critically important to continue to invest in these projects to create a community where people want to be, with world-class amenities that are accessible and inclusive for all.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.

Fred Buie

Fred Buie is president of Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company and serves as the Greater Des Moines Partnership's 2021 board chair.