DES MOINES, Iowa — This week the economy of downtown Des Moines has been in the spotlight. Wells Fargo is looking to sell four large office buildings as they shift most workers to their West Des Moines location and Old Spaghetti Works abruptly closed after 45 years citing, among other things, a perception on safety issues. According to two sources, data tells a different story.

“To see the number of assaults have dropped 47% in a year and calls for service are declining rapidly, that tells you the efforts and investment is working on both the private side and the public side,” Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parezik said.

Trends are continuing to show downtown is becoming safer, Sgt. Parezik said.

“If you go somewhere looking for trouble, chances are you’re going to find it,” Sgt. Parezik added, pointing to incidents where large groups of people were involved in fights and shootings along Court Avenue.

Old Spaghetti Works along Court Ave. cited economic factors as well as an overall unsafe public perception behind their decision to suddenly close on Tuesday for good. Tiffany Tauscheck with the Greater Des Moines Partnership said data they track and rely on also tells a different story.

“We are at 83% of pre-pandemic levels for foot traffic for Downtown at any given time. But, when you look at specifically Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s, we are at 91% of pre-pandemic levels. This is really exciting because when you look nationally, the number is 50%. Yes, perception matters, data matters too. But, first hand accounts are critical for us to share the good news and good things that are happening downtown.”

Tiffany Tauscheck with the Greater Des Moines Partnership

Tauschek said the Greater Des Moines Partnership has more momentum with new events and businesses moving to downtown than ever before, some they can’t announce yet.

Tauscheck added work continues on major community projects, including:

  • The Iowa Confluence (ICON) Water Trails
  • The Pro Iowa Soccer Stadium and Global Plaza
  • Lauridsen Skatepark opened as the largest skatepark in the country in 2021

Additionally, there have been a large number of major events and activations with several coming up:

  • March Madness, which was led by Catch Des Moines, Drake University and the Iowa Events Center
  • DSM Book Festival this past Saturday, March 25
  • Great DSM Hot Air Balloon Hunt on March 4 
  • DSM Loves You Valentine’s Day Popup in February
  • Downtown Farmers’ Market begins on May 6
  • Iowa Cubs begin next Friday. Iowa Wild season is on-going
  • Des Moines Performing Arts shows at the Civic Center
  • Out to Lunch coming soon this summer