Meredith Corp. has acquired the former Iowa Paint Manufacturing Co. property that connects Ingersoll and Grand avenues at 17th Street in the Western Gateway Park area downtown.
“It’s a key development site, probably the most important remaining undeveloped site in the Western Gateway area,” said Glenn Lyons, president and CEO of the Downtown Community Alliance (DCA).
The full city block area is directly north of the four-story office building that Meredith built in 1998 in the 1600 block between Locust Street and Grand Avenue.
Commuters who ride Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority buses pass the now abandoned Iowa Paint store/warehouse and its distinctive curved front as they enter and leave the downtown area on 17th Street.
The publicly owned media company paid $1.26 million for the city block, which consists of surface parking and a 5,400-square-foot building with a curved front that Iowa Paint built in 1996. The seller was a company owned by the Goldman family that owned Iowa Paint.
“The opportunity to purchase the property at a favorable price became available and we acted upon it,” Meredith spokesman Art Slusark said in an email.
“Our objective is to sell the property when the right opportunity presents itself. We are looking for an owner who would develop the property in line with the master plan for the Western Gateway and current character of the neighborhood,” he said.
“We have no long term plans for the property. In the interim we will do some cosmetic work to the grounds to make it more attractive for our neighbors and to a potential buyer. We may use the building in the interim for some photo shoots but that has yet to be determined. We do not plan any major improvements to either the grounds or the building,” Slusark said.
The DCA’sLyons said he felt good about the sale, adding, “We have identified key sites that we wanted to get into the hands of someone who will see that they are properly developed, and this was at the top of our list” of sites in the Gateway area.
Meredith’s corporate campus marks the western end of Western Gateway Park, which is home to the nationally acclaimed John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Meredith, which publishes Better Homes and Gardens and Successful Farming magazines, was instrumental in the creation of the park a decade ago.
Iowa Paint was a Des Moines-based paint manufacturer that was founded in the 1920s. It was acquired by Harold Goldman in 1952. His son, Tom Goldman, sold the business to Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc. in 2006, and the new owners closed the downtown store at 1625 Grand Ave.
While reading Joel J. Miller’s 2010 biography of Paul Revere last week, I ran across a reference to the HMS Romney, a 50-gun British warship, which entered Boston’s harbor in 1768 and captured the Liberty, a smuggling ship owned by John Hancock.
The Liberty’s capture, two years before the Boston Massacre and five years before the Boston Tea Party, prompted a mob to rise up against officials charged with enforcing the Townshend Acts, a series of laws that imposed onerous taxes on items such as glass, paper and tea.
The ship was the first of five in the Royal Navy to carry the Romney name between 1762 and 1950. The name came from an area in the southeast part of England, near the English Channel.
The irony of a British ship charged with enforcing the hated Townshend Acts having the same name as the Republican presidential candidate was noted recently by an urban legends website, which felt compelled to note that there was no connection between the candidate and the ship.