A lot at 22nd Street and University Avenue in Des Moines’ Drake neighborhood has been cleared of a convenience store and fuel pumps to make way for a $6.5 million development that will include a grocery store and workforce housing.

The new three-story building will include a street-level grocery store with about 9,000 square feet of space and 24 apartments spread over two levels, according to an application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s workforce housing tax credit program.

The project's developer is Neighborhood Development Corp., a nonprofit redevelopment group supported by the city of Des Moines and Polk County. The group was founded in 1999 and has a long history of helping spark redevelopment in neighborhoods.

In 2017, for instance, Neighborhood Development acquired three abandoned properties at 2225 University Ave., razed dilapidated structures on the parcels, and built a 20-unit studio apartment project.

UA Station, the name of the project at 2211 University Ave., is planned on property immediately east of the apartment project.

“We wanted to continue that redevelopment effort down University,” said Abbey Gilroy, Neighborhood Development’s executive director. “That’s our model. We come into a neighborhood and stay until we feel the private market is coming in and taking over.”

About five years ago, Neighborhood Development began talking with officials from Kum & Go about acquiring the convenience store property, Gilroy said. “We let them know that we’d be interested in purchasing the property.”

In early February, Kum & Go announced it was closing the store at 2211 University Ave. that had been open since 1998. Kum & Go also has a convenience store at 3104 University Ave.

A Kum & Go spokesperson confirmed that the company has a contract to sell the property to Neighborhood Development Corp. Kum & Go demolished the structure that was on the site and removed the underground fuel tanks, Gilroy said.

Last week, Iowa Economic Development Authority announced that UA Station was awarded $452,160 in tax credits.

“We really needed the workforce tax credit to make the project work,” Gilroy said.

Hilal Groceries, located at 1163 25th St., will move into the street-level space at UA Station, she said.

“They will be able to expand their offerings,” she said. “They’ve run out of space where they are currently located.”

Efforts to reach Hilal Groceries were unsuccessful.

Gilroy said there is a need for additional workforce housing in the neighborhood. She said the studio apartment project at 2225 University Ave. was filled before construction was completed.

Construction of UA Station is expected to begin in spring 2023 and be completed the following year.

PHOTOS ABOVE: Top photo from Google Earth shows the site at 2211 University Ave. before the convenience store and fuel pumps were removed. Bottom photo is of the site as it currently appears.

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