Developer backs out of plan to rehabilitate historic Des Moines Fire Department headquarters

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The former Des Moines Fire Department headquarters is back on the market.

Kansas City-based developers Abbott Properties announced this week it would abandon its proposal to rehabilitate the historic property.

The company agreed to buy the building two months ago and planned to spend $3.5 million on improvements. Abbott Properties owner Matt Abbott hoped the revamped firehouse would include a coffee shop, an event space, a speakeasy-style bar, and several stages for live music.

However, Abbott said his company could not find a way to turn the proposal into reality. In a statement to WHO 13, Abbott said:

“Great property, great city, great opportunity and everyone that we worked was amazing to work with and very supportive. There are a lot of dynamics and critical components that need to come together and align to make projects of this nature viable. We simply couldn’t put it together on our end. All I can say is that I loved the building and neighborhood. Everyone was amazing, and it’s completely on me that we couldn’t make it all work.”

Matt Abbott, Abbott Properties

The building was formerly home to the Des Moines Social Club, which shut down and listed the building for sale in April.

Rob Feeney, who leads the team attempting to sell the building, released this statement to WHO 13:

“In completing due diligence, Abbott Properties determined the Firehouse Campus was not the right fit for their portfolio. We have re-listed the property and continue to receive interest. We anticipate that we will identify another partner who will bring great vision and activity back to the Campus in the near future.”

Rob Feeney, Firehouse Transition Board Chair

The art-deco landmark opened as Des Moines’ Fire Station 1 in 1937. It served as the Des Moines Fire Department’s headquarters until a new facility was built four blocks west on Mulberry Street in 2012.

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