DES MOINES, Iowa — The view across the river from downtown Des Moines could look very different in a decade. The extensive Market District development is already in progress, and the historic Des Moines Police headquarters may also have a new purpose in the near future.
The city of Des Moines announced its intention to purchase the former Nationwide building on 12th and Locust streets this week, with the goal of moving agencies including the police department into the complex by the end of the decade.
“We’re bringing more uses than just our government offices on the riverfront in the East Village,” said Des Moines deputy city manager Matt Anderson. “It’s going to add a lot more life here. If you can add some residential, condominium space, or apartments.”
The Market District plans to fill the void of housing space along the river between Court Avenue and E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. Developer Paul Hayes’ plan calls for more than 3,000 housing units and 135,000 square feet of retail space in the district.
“It’s a neighborhood where people will live, work, and play,” Hayes said. “It’s a location that will provide an alternative for some of the festivals in downtown Des Moines.”
The district broke ground last year, and some of the brand new roads are already complete.
“You can almost get the feel of what it’s going to be like if you walk the streets down there,” Hayes said. “It’s a fresh slate to imagine what it will be.”
Hayes said the potential of the old police headquarters is encouraging, but believes developers may tread lightly in taking on the project.
“That’s a real challenge to convert that type of property to something with showers and kitchens and bathrooms for living space,” Hayes said.
Regardless, Hayes believes the future for both the Market District and the police headquarters is bright.
“The district and the other activity in the area are going to make the police department an appealing property to develop,” Hayes said.