Retail consultant Robert Gibbs, who will advise planners on how to reshape Walnut Street into a cultural hub, began his research this weekend by looking at the overall shopping landscape in Greater Des Moines.
Unlike most urban areas, downtown Des Moines is missing independent stores and national chains, with the majority of retail options residing in the suburbs, said Glenn Lyons, president and CEO of the Downtown Community Alliance (DCA). The DCA and city of Des Moines want to change that by adding restaurants, retailers and entertainment to the drab and empty Walnut Street.
Gibbs, who heads Michigan-based Gibbs Planning Group and has consulted nearly 350 town centers or shopping areas across the country, spoke to area leaders at the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the City Council on Monday about retail trends and what modern-day shoppers want.
He will finish off his trip today by meeting with Walnut Street property owners, Lyons said. Once his research is complete, Gibbs will talk with planners and developers in January about the best ways to move forward and how to design the street. His recommendations will then be incorporated into the overall street concept and design plan.
"We're in the early days," Lyons said. "We don't know how strong the demand is; we don't know how broad the demand is. We're still at the beginning of a long process."
Lyons said a concept design will be drawn up by January 2013 and hopes a final plan will be approved by April. If all goes according to plan, construction will most likely begin around Kaleidoscope at The Hub in 2014, he said.
Click here to read a Business Record article on how the DCA plans to revive Walnut Street