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A look around Gray’s Station, the urban neighborhood under development on downtown Des Moines’ southern edge


Walk up six flights of stairs in the massive apartment building under construction just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and you’ll enter a common area with spectacular views of downtown Des Moines and the state Capitol.

“This is our closing place,” Kris Saddoris, Hubbell Realty Co.’s vice president of multifamily development, said unabashedly. “This is where our [residents] will bring their friends. … 
“This,” she continued, “is what the people who live in middle of downtown don’t have – a view of downtown.”

Several folks from Hubbell Realty recently took Joe Crimmings, Business Publication Corp.’s creative director, and me on a tour of Gray’s Station, the $250 million development underway on 84 acres south of MLK Parkway and Southwest 11th Street. 

The development, which includes apartments, townhouses, condominiums, single-family residences, restaurants and other businesses, is expected to be completed in 10 to 15 years. Hubbell expects more than 3,000 people to eventually live in the urban neighborhood that will have about 1,200 residences.

Click here to hear Kris Saddoris of Hubbell Realty Co. talk about the proximity of Gray’s Station to downtown Des Moines.
The area, Saddoris said, is part of downtown.

“Where is the sign that says I’m leaving downtown?” she asked. “The beauty of this development is that we’ve pulled the line farther south.”

LINC, the $48 million, 227-unit apartment building under construction at MLK and Southwest 11th, is the main entryway into the development. Saddoris said she challenged Slingshot Architecture, which designed the structure, to make it stand out.

It’s why on the top floor of the building, where its two sides meet, a triangle-shaped patio juts over the walkway and patio below.

“We want people to go by and turn their head and say, ‘What?… Wow!” she said. 

The building includes a range of apartment sizes, including affordably-priced micro units.

The first level of LINC will include at least one restaurant and other support businesses, possibly a coffee shop and nail salon. Mad Meatball, a popular pizzeria formerly located east of the Des Moines River, will open in spring 2020 in ground floor space. 

“We’re trying to create a neighborhood here, and [Mad Meatball] are that neighborhood pub,” said Joe Pietruszynski, Hubbell’s senior vice president for development and construction.

The restaurant’s patio will be adjacent to a trail that runs southwest to a $4 million pedestrian bridge that goes over the Raccoon River, connecting the development with Gray’s Lake. The bridge, which will be lit at night, opened Tuesday.

The trail winds past a wetland basin designed by the city of Des Moines, RDG Planning and Design, and Civil Design Advantage. Three small basins have been combined into a large wetland basin system that will filter water that flows from the north before it enters the Raccoon River.

The wetland will include small overlook points and seating areas. This fall, more than 45,000 plants native to the area were planted along the banks, the water’s edge and the basin’s bottom. Eventually, reeds and wetland grasses will poke through the surface of the water.

Eventually, houses will be built near the basin and the pedestrian bridge, Saddorris said.

“It’ll be really nice to be able to go back and forth through here,” Saddorris said. “It’s such a nice river system, and we hadn’t done a nice job of allowing people to get back into this area [near the bridge].

“Now people will be able to go back and forth and see a pretty spectacular area.”



How did Hubbell come up with the name Linc?
Linc is an unusual name for an apartment building, but Hubbell Realty Co. officials had a reason for tagging the structure with the name. “It’s a link to downtown,” Kris Saddoris of Hubbell said. The company wanted to spell the name L-I-N-K but that was copyrighted, Saddoris said. “So we’re L-I-N-C.”

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