Owners of restaurant within historic Des Moines Fire Headquarters plan to buy the building


DES MOINES, Iowa — The former Des Moines Fire Headquarters has stayed on the market for months, but a group familiar with the building now has big plans for the property.

Todd Millang and Paul Rottenberg have made a $2.3 million offer for the building on 9th and Mulberry, according to city council documents. The two are responsible for Malo, the restaurant which is located within the art-deco landmark.

“This is what we have. This is what we can do. We can be creative,” Millang told WHO 13 News on Sunday. “We’re going to try and take a different look at it and say, ‘What can it be? What should it be?’ instead of forcing what it was supposed to be before.”

Des Moines City Council will consider the proposal on Monday.

The firehouse was last home to the Des Moines Social Club, which announced in April it would close its operations and sell the complex. A developer from Kansas City agreed to buy the property for $3.1 million in September, but backed out of the agreement last month.

Millang said his group is not deterred by the previous effort to buy and rehabilitate the headquarters.

“We know the property,” Millang said. “We know the hurdles with the property, the concerns with the property, and the uniqueness of it, but we also recognize the opportunities.”

According to Millang, their plan is to lease portions of the building out to other tenants, such as office space on the second floor and potentially a warehouse showroom in the former Kum & Go Theater.

Their proposal centers on a transformation of the headquarters’ back parking lot into an improved courtyard and event space.

“We can add a little bit of greenery, a little bit of color back there,” Millang said. “It’s about what works for the building and also what is financially supportable.”

However, he acknowledged that the communication tower on the complex will likely be disassembled in their plans.

“We will probably remove the tower,” Millang said. “It’s a cool structure, but it really impedes the efficiency of the space for parking and events in general.”

If city council approves the purchase agreement, Millang estimates work to the building could begin in the spring or summer.

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