Rendering of proposed development submitted to the City of Des Moines Friday by Hubbell Realty.
Rendering of proposed development submitted to the City of Des Moines Friday by Hubbell Realty.


Update 5 p.m.

Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson released the list of developers and architects who have submitted a total of five proposals. In an email, Anderson said a quick look at the proposals: "we have a full-service Hy-Vee, 12-screen theater, potential indoor farmers’ market and a lot of retail, housing, and structured parking options.'

Anderson said he would release the details of all the proposals on Monday. Here is the list of companies by proposal according to Anderson:

Hubbell Realty

  • Hubbell Realty, West Des Moines
  • Slingshot Architecture, Des Moines
  • Reynolds Urban Design, Des Moines
  • Walker Parking Consultants, Minneapolis

Knapp Properties / Hy-Vee

  • Joint venture by Knapp Properties, Inc. and Hy-Vee, both of West Des Moines
  • OPN Architects, Des Moines

Mandelbaum Properties

  • Mandelbaum Properties, West Des Moines


  • OPUS, Minneapolis
  • ESG Architects, Minneapolis
  • Confluence, Des Moines

Sherman Associates

  • Sherman Associates, Minneapolis
  • Substance Architects, Des Moines
  • Confluence, Des Moines

Update, 2:25 p.m.:

Hubbell Realty Co. has also presented a plan to develop 2.3 acres along Court Avenue in downtown Des Moines.

Hubbell has submitted a proposal to the city of Des Moines for a commercial and residential development called Court Avenue Station that would feature a pocket plaza at Fifth and Court and a tower called The Beacon, an internally-lit, passive cooling tower cloaked in art. The area would be  “an integral part of the way-finding network downtown,” Hubbell said in its proposal.

In addition, the company plans plans walk-up residences along Fourth, across the street Hubbell-developed condominiums, and a parking garage at Fifth.

Like Sherman, Hubbell also envisions allowing the farmers market to expand into a public/private court with first-floor tenant spaces and restaurants. “Our current design proposes the concept of a large screen for light art and/or public movies on the north side of the garage and a ground scape crafted with seating areas, greenery and well defined materials,” Hubbell said.

In all, Hubbell is proposing two main buildings, one of the north side of the property that would have 108 residential units and 20,350 square feet of commercial space. Another building would have 52 residential units and a 363-stall parking garage.

The Hubbell team consisted of Slingshot Architecture, Reynolds Urban Design and Walker Parking Consultants.

Minneapolis-based Opus Group, Knapp Properties Inc. and a team led by Justin Mandelbaum also were expected to submit proposal today.

Update, 1 p.m.:

Sherman Associates Inc. proposes indoor farmer's market for Court Avenue District Minneapolis developer Sherman Associates Inc. has proposed an indoor farmers market as part of its plan submitted today to the city of Des Moines for development of a 2.3 acre parking lot at Fourth and Court avenues downtown.

Sherman, already a key developer of downtown properties, has proposed these uses:

“The primary focus of this development is to create a true mixed-use building containing residential, commercial, parking and public space.

  • 121 units of market-rate rental housing.
  • 14,400 square feet of street level commercial space, containing an indoor farmers market.
  • 10,000 square feet of flexible covered courtyard space. This space would be utilized by farmers market and commercial users.
  • 580 parking stalls. Approximately 375 would be available for public parking. The balance of parking would be reserved for residents of the 4th and Court development, Randolph, and Rumely Lofts.”
The plan was prepared by Sherman and Des Moines architecture firms Confluence and Substance. Here is a rendering of Sherman's proposal for an indoor farmers market.

Our earlier coverage:

Developers interested in the build-out of 2.3 acres of city-owned property in the Court Avenue entertainment district have until noon today to submit the ideas to the city of Des Moines.


The city asked for proposals in January after Minneapolis-based Opus Group sought City Council approval for a commercial and residential project at the site, which has been a parking lot for the last 14 years.


Plans should be devised with these goals in mind, according to the city:

  • Development should provide a mix of uses to complement the existing neighborhood.
  • Housing, retail, restaurant, entertainment and service-oriented businesses are encouraged.
  • On-site parking should be provided to meet the demand generated by the new development, plus 150-250 public parking spaces.
  • Ownership and operation of the public parking will be negotiated with the selected developer.
  • Scale and placement of buildings should be respectful of the adjacent historic Polk County Courthouse to the west, which is the focal point of the Court Avenue district, the Randolph Apartment buildings to the north, and historic former railroad depot to the south.

"The design of this property should convey a dynamic and active atmosphere that enhances the existing historic character and urban fabric of the Court Avenue district," the city said.


Opus was thrown into a hunt for more plans after Hubbell Realty Co. President and CEO Rick Tollakson said the city should follow a track similar to one it has used on other city-owned properties. Both Hubbell and Opus are in competition to redevelop a city-owned parking ramp at Seventh Street and Grand Avenue into commercial and residential space. The City Council is expected to select one of the proposals later this month.


The Court Avenue site was obtained by the city in a series of purchases starting in 2000. Eventually, the city paid nearly $3 million to Wells Fargo & Co., Norfolk Southern Corp. and Auto Park Corp., according to Polk County property records.

Hubbell and real estate investor Harry Bookey teamed up to develop the site, but their plans were scrapped when financial markets collapsed.


After Opus offered a preliminary development plan for the site, Tollakson argued that the "most fair thing to do" would be to seek additional proposals.


At least five development groups, including Hubbell and Opus, are expected to file their proposals today.


The property is directly south of another major development project. Sherman Associates Inc., also of Minneapolis, is preparing for a nearly $17 million rehabilitation project for the Randolph Hotel, Youngerman Building and Earle & LeBosquait Building at the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Court Avenue. The project would result in 55 residential units and about 7,500 square feet of first-floor commercial space. Sherman is expected to submit a plan for 420 Court.


Any development also would provide a gateway or sorts to a rejuvenated public courts district. Voters have approved an $80 million referendum for renovations to the Polk County Courthouse, a recently acquired administration building north of the courthouse and a major rehab project for the former Polk County Jail to the west.

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