Developer agrees to buy, rehabilitate historic Des Moines Fire Department headquarters

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DES MOINES, Iowa — One of Des Moines’ most culturally significant buildings is almost in new hands.

Abbott Properties of Kansas City has agreed to buy the historic Des Moines Fire Department Headquarters on 9th and Mulberry. According to city council documents, the landmark sold for $3.1 million, with Abbott Properties agreeing to invest $3.5 million into building rehabilitation.

“When we looked at this location and building, I really saw the possibilities,” said Abbott Properties owner Matt Abbott. “We can save the authenticity of the building and bring it up to today’s standards.”

Abbott said plans for the building are early, but will likely include a coffee shop, an event space, a speakeasy-style bar, and several stages for live music. If the sale is approved by Des Moines City Council on Monday, Abbott estimates the revamped fire headquarters could open sometime in 2023.

“Our goal with this is, ‘How can we get locals to interact with travelers and create that meeting place?'” Abbott said.

The headquarters was recently home to the Des Moines Social Club, who closed up their operations and put the building up for sale in April. The Social Club facilitated the sale of the complex, and will use part of the proceeds from the sale to fund the arts through the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

“I’m excited to see what they come up with,” said Rob Feeney, who leads the Des Moines Social Club’s transition board. “They have a great track record, and they have done this in different markets. We’re attracting folks from outside of the Des Moines metro and Iowa at large to come invest in Des Moines.”

Abbott’s company has renovated several historic buildings into creative spaces, particularly in the Crossroads district of Kansas City. He said he is inspired to build on the progress the Des Moines Social Club started on the former fire headquarters.

“They were trying to bring together a place of community and a place of creativity,” Abbott said of the Des Moines Social Club. “To me, it’s perfect. I don’t think we have a better opportunity to show what we do.”

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