DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines Social Club is leaving Firehouse No. 1 in downtown Des Moines and a public market is moving in … eventually.
On Wednesday a group of metro leaders announced plans to convert the former fire station into a ‘public market concept’ that would give year-round space to local vendors to sell goods in the heart of the capital city. The market would replace the Des Moines Social Club which has called the building at 900 Mulberry Street home for the last five years. Earlier this summer the Social Club revealed it has lost millions of dollars over the last few years.
A work group made up of representatives from the Greater Des Moines Partnership, City of Des Moines, Polk County, Drake University, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Christensen Development and engineering firm BBS are spearheading the creation of the market and the fundraising to make it a reality. They are drawing inspiration from similar successful markets in Philadephia, Portland and Milwaukee among other cities.
There are still a number of unanswered questions about the plan including how much it will cost, where the funding will come from and when the project will be complete. The group says the project is the next evolution of downtown Des Moines and Western Gateway Park.
Drake University president Marty Martin says he is getting involved because a stronger city will lead to a better school. “We’re like anyone else as well, we’re looking for talent everywhere we can find it,” Martin said, “Making Des Moines a more vibrant city as the public market will do makes it easier for us to find the type of talent we need to be the institution that we aspire to be.”
Meanwhile the future of the Des Moines Social Club is still undecided. The Social Club’s board of directors released a statement offering a possible farewell to the community:
“For more than ten years the Des Moines Social Club has served this community’s growing, artistic
community. Our vision was to bring people together through the arts and provide access to vibrant
cultural offerings. As new arts and cultural organizations have emerged and expanded, it is also
time for our organization to imagine what’s next.
As we celebrated our tenth anniversary, we sought the advice and counsel of community leaders,
staff, and supporters, past and present, to explore opportunities to continue the work and activity
at Firehouse No. 1.
In our commitment to serve this organization and the community, we understand that we must be
open to new ideas, energy, and leadership. It is now time for the organization to evolve and
transform. While the programming may not look like it has in the past, we welcome the
possibilities that come with the evolution of this glorious facility in the continuing mission to create
unprecedented community engagement.
Something new and wonderful is coming, and we are thrilled to have been a part of its emergence.
To all of you who have supported our activities these many years, we thank you.”
Board of Directors
Des Moines Social Club