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Cleanup begins on contaminated downtown property


The former Dico Inc. property sits south of West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. Photo by Duane Tinkey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week began work to remove three buildings from a contaminated site in southwest downtown Des Moines, a process that when completed will allow development of a multiuse outdoor stadium to begin.

In related action, the Des Moines City Council on Monday approved spending $731,894 to demolish an office and production building on the former Dico Inc. manufacturing site at 200 S.W. 16th St. and $100,000 to ensure asbestos and other hazardous materials are properly removed from the property.

The council awarded the demolition bid to Earth Services & Abatement LC, which does business in Iowa under Iowa Demolition. The asbestos oversight bid was awarded to Impact7G Inc. of Clive.

“The public is going to start seeing noticeable improvement on this site, particularly with the first buildings coming down,” said council member Josh Mandelbaum, who represents the area. “The site should be cleared by the end of the year and this eyesore will be no more. We’ll have a great opportunity to transform this area and make it a destination in our community.”

The 43-acre toxic site has sat unused for more than 25 years as the property’s former owner, Titan International Inc., fought the federal government on cleanup costs and other issues. The property was placed on the EPA’s Superfund list in 1983.  

Last fall, the EPA, Titan and Dico reached an agreement that included the payment of nearly $12 million in fines to the EPA and the donation of the land to the city of Des Moines. Mandelbaum said about $3.5 million from the fine is being used by the EPA to pay for demolition of the buildings and property cleanup.

Des Moines took possession of the property on May 28.

The city’s portion of the cleanup includes removing and disposing of materials that contain asbestos, demolishing and removing two buildings and two above-ground storage tanks, and removing other materials including fences and debris. The city’s portion of the work is expected to begin later this summer and be completed by year’s end, officials have said.

After the cleanup is completed, the EPA will continue monitoring the site.

A 6,300-seat multiuse outdoor stadium, which will be used by a USL Championship soccer team, is expected to be built on the property. Surrounding the stadium would be what’s being called the Global Plaza as well as parking for about 500 vehicles, a 150-room hotel and additional soccer fields.

Krause+, the real estate arm of Krause Group, which owns Kum & Go convenience stores, is the development group behind the proposed project. The cost to redevelop the site is estimated at nearly $120 million. The project recently received preliminary approval for $23.5 in state tax incentives.

Related article: Next steps for ambitious Des Moines-area projects

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