DES MOINES, Iowa — The new EMC Downtown Park opens Thursday at the corner of Seventh and Walnut Streets in Des Moines. The site has sat vacant since the 2014 fire that destroyed the historic Younkers Building.

EMC Insurance acquired the property across the street from its corporate headquarters in 2018. It originally planned to expand its headquarters but decided to partner with the city of Des Moines to build a park after deeming extra office space unnecessary.

Park features include half-court basketball, the city’s first pickleball court, and a cushioned play area with interactive sculptural elements for climbing.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, leaders from both the city and EMC spoke about the park and what it will mean to the community.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie highlighted the city’s work with EMC to build the park. He believes it will make downtown more attractive for people to work and live.

“There’s nearly 2,500 people that are within a 10-minute walk of here that live in downtown Des Moines. Downtown is changing, downtown is a different place but, again, when we all think together, we plan together, we work together, we can see success,” he said.

Though EMC owns the land the park sits on, the city will manage it.

Walnut Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets has remained closed since the 2014 fire. It also opens to traffic Thursday.