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Greater Des Moines Leadership Explore Year-Round Public Market Concept

DSM USA Public Market Concept

September 4, 2019

GREATER DES MOINES, IA (Sept. 4, 2019) – Community stakeholders are exploring the transformation of Firehouse No. 1, located at 900 Mulberry St. in Downtown Des Moines (DSM), into a public market. The longtime, successful restaurant tenant, Malo, will continue operations in the space, as well as the addition of a new – yet well known – bakery, Scenic Route.

This public market concept could host a variety of owner-operated shops or vendor areas that would include fresh and often locally grown food or produce. The vision of a public market is to create a flexible space that further develops a community around local food, art and innovation. The project offers a hub for culinary experiences, educational engagement and outreach, entrepreneurial activities and unique events. Public markets have been successful in other U.S. cities including Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Portland and Milwaukee, and many cities around the world.

A small work group, including the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Christensen Development, architecture and engineering firm BBS, Polk County, Drake University, the City of Des Moines and the Greater Des Moines Partnership, are working through a due diligence period to ensure  a public market layout and business plan is ready to be realized. This builds on work done in recent years to study the concept in Greater Des Moines (DSM) while evaluating public market best practices in other communities.

“This provides a unique opportunity to evolve a signature, historic property in Downtown DSM while igniting a vision for a project benefitting the community,” said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Tri-Chair of the Capital Crossroads regional vision plan. “A public market is another key amenity in attracting and retaining talent in DSM, and will also support our region’s small business ecosystem.”

“We have an opportunity to bring to life a vision that will have a positive impact on the Western Gateway neighborhood, Downtown and the region as a whole,” said Tim Leach, Senior Vice President of Downtown Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “A public market and Scenic Route’s opening will build on the positive momentum already happening in that area with Malo’s continued success and other development continuing to build up the west side of Downtown.”

Firehouse No. 1 has served as the home of the Des Moines Social Club since 2014. The Des Moines Social Club has recognized the need to evolve and transform. The Des Moines Social Club Board of Directors sought the advice and counsel of community leaders to explore new avenues into the future.

“There has been interest in a public market in DSM for many years, as evidenced by its inclusion in Capital Crossroads. As we convened Des Moines Social Club stakeholders to determine how best to move forward with this unique community space, there was immediate enthusiasm around the opportunity to fulfill the community’s dream for a public market while infusing the spirit of the Des Moines Social Club,” said Kristi Knous, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines and Tri-Chair of the Capital Crossroads regional vision plan.

“We believe this concept will further the vibrancy of our region,” said Jake Christensen, president of Christensen Development. “This would build on the vision of  Firehouse No. 1, support local entrepreneurs, cultivate creativity and connect more people to fresh and organic foods and local goods.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Polk County and the City of Des Moines have each stepped up to provide due diligence funding for a public market. Hubbell Realty Company has donated in-kind building management support during the due diligence period.

“There is a lot of momentum around this project,” said Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy. “This is another example of our region’s commitment to collaborate, imagine what is possible and put the resources in place to make it happen.”  

The public market concept would build upon the successful Downtown Farmers’ Market presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines with a collaborative approach. The Market takes place each Saturday morning from May – October with an average attendance of 25,000 visitors and supports nearly 300 local small business owners, including farmers, producers, bakers and artists that represent 50 counties across the state of Iowa.

Research conducted by Iowa State University shows an interest from potential vendors in having space to sell their products at a year-round market.

Learn more about the public market at desmoinespublicmarket.com.

About the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines improves quality of life for all by promoting charitable giving, connecting donors with causes they care about and providing leadership on important community issues…we’re simply better together. The Community Foundation manages assets in excess of $586 million, administers over 1,970 charitable giving funds and distributed over $38 million in grants in 2018.

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership

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 6,400 Regional Business Members and more than 340 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.

About Drake University

Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling more than 3,000 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate students. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools. Drake students, faculty, and staff take advantage of the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business opportunities found in Iowa's capital city. In return, Drake enriches the city through its own cultural offerings, considerable economic impact, and many service-learning endeavors, which channel the talent and energy of the Drake students toward meeting the needs of the community.

About Christensen Development

Since its formation in 2003, Christensen Development has helped transform the commercial core of Central Iowa. The firm is taking a leading role in raising the urban profile of Greater Des Moines through its expertise and experience in creating new buildings and repurposing business properties. Its portfolio of properties it owns, has developed for others, or for which it has consulted, are infusing this market with the forward-looking design, adaptive reuse, new functionality and quality that is making Des Moines a true 21st century city.

About Capital Crossroads

Capital Crossroads is a bold but achievable vision pushing Central Iowans to dream big, not settle for good enough, think long term and work together. Capital Crossroads brings together community volunteers to meet the challenges of the future while building on our past successes. It is in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Catch Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Polk County, Prairie Meadows and the United Way of Central Iowa.