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Des Moines board unimpressed with proposed mixed-use building in Drake area


A mixed-use building proposed at 26th Street and University Avenue was received tepidly today by members of the Urban Design Review Board.

“It appears [the building] could go anywhere,” board member Michelle Huggins told the project’s developers. The Drake area “is a very special place. … It isn’t the East Village.”

Board member Scott Allen was just as blunt. “The context is really important in this neighborhood, and you just ignored it entirely in this presentation.”   

Nelson Construction & Development is proposing to build a four-story mixed-use building across from Drake University that would include 135 apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail space. The project is valued at $20.6 million. Nelson Development is constructing a five-story Home2 Suites hotel west of the proposed mixed-use building; to the east is a five-story church that was recently bought by Lutheran Church of Hope. 

While the board approved the project’s preliminary design, it told Nelson Development’s team to find ways to integrate the building more with the neighborhood, reduce the size of the vents, soften the building’s corners and rethink how some of the metal siding is used.

Construction of the building is expected to begin this summer with completion by the middle of 2021.

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