The historic Green Foundry Building at Southwest Third Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway could be developed into restaurants and retail shops under a proposal by building co-owner Rich Eychaner.

 

Plans for the structure, which was constructed in the late 19th century and has undergone a raft of additions since then, have changed over the 15 years since Eychaner became co-owner with attorney John Shors and his wife, Patsy. 

 

Early last year, Eychaner withdrew his request for a $2 million federal grant after two proposals were submitted to develop residential units on the property. One plan was for 22 second-floor units in the foundry. Construction estimates for that project were expensive. A second plan to develop 24 residential units in a parking lot on the property ultimately was rejected by state and city officials, who urged Eychaner to withdraw the proposal so the money could be used for other projects.

 

With residents flocking to downtown and the entertainment districts thriving, Eychaner said it's time for a new development scheme.

 

Eychaner, who noted that the site has undergone so many changes that it has 19 roof lines, said plans are to spend up to $9 million razing sections that have little historical significance and using the towers at the north and south ends of the property as key architectural elements of retail centers.

 

In addition, the owners hope to create an entrance to Southwest Third, and Eychaner envisions sidewalk cafes along the street.

 

"Our plan solves a lot by removing the pieces that aren't tenant oriented and focusing on the substantial towers on the north and south, then fixing those so that we have something that is interesting architecturally and reflects the buildings as they originally existed," Eychaner said.

 

However, the full extent of the renovation won't be known until Eychaner gauges how much interest businesses have in locating at the property.

 

A flier that is being distributed to Greater Des Moines commercial real estate brokers suggests a suburban-style shopping center in a 22,000-square-foot building on the south end of the property. A second phase includes renovation of the towers on the north and south ends of the property fronting Southwest Third into retail spaces, offices and restaurants.

 

The property is named after Samuel Green who moved to Des Moines in 1857 and worked in the city's first foundry, before starting his own business in buildings along Southwest Third. At one time, the foundry was "one of the leading manufacturing industries in the city, its trade extending as far west as Colorado," according to the landmark nomination form for Norden Hall, where the Green family once lived.

 

Norden Hall was purchased by developer Jake Christensen and moved to 425 E. Locust St., where it is being renovated for a commercial use.