One Year After the Younkers Fire

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DES MOINES, Iowa — This weekend marks one year since a fire destroyed the historic Younkers Building downtown. The cause was never determined. The damage is still noticeable today. However progress to restore the area is moving along.

The Alexander Company is remodeling the west side of the building. When complete this side will house 60 apartment units. The $20 million project will be finished by the end of 2015, but officials aren’t sure what to do with the east side of the building which was destroyed in the fire. The company will either create a new building or sell the space to a developer.

The fire also delayed the city of Des Moines’ plans to redo the Walnut Street streetscape. Construction on the old street was supposed to start in 2014. Work will now likely start sometime in the spring of 2016. City officials hope the new streetscape will attract retailers and restaurants to the area breathing life back into the area.

“It’s really a cosmetic and aesthetic overhaul of Walnut Street, new benches, new planters, new public art, just really breathing life back into it. So it’s a street that you want to walk down. Right now it’s really not a street that you want to walk down,” said assistant city manager Matt Anderson.

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