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Electrical substation in middle of redevelopment area ‘a concern visually’


An electrical substation owned by MidAmerican Energy Co. is directly east of the site on which a new multiuse stadium is planned. Officials are discussing how to make the substation “look better than it does.” The aerial photo shows the demolition of dilapidated buildings on the site. Photo by Duane Tinkey

Millions of dollars’ worth of redevelopment is planned on about 60 acres south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway between the Raccoon River and Southwest 16th Street in Des Moines.

In the middle of the redevelopment area  and visible from MLK Parkway  a MidAmerican Energy Co. substation sits on nearly 8 acres.

“It’s not necessarily an eyesore, but it’s definitely a concern visually,” Nate Easter, director of development for Krause+, told members of the Urban Review Design Board today. The development group is exploring “how to make that look a little better than it does now.”

Krause Group, through its development arm Krause+, plans to develop a 6,300-seat multiuse outdoor stadium on land west of the substation. The stadium would be used by a USL Championship soccer team and would also host other events including concerts and trade fairs as well as other sporting events.

The stadium and a Global Plaza are the centerpiece of an estimated $550 million redevelopment plan that includes the area south of MLK Parkway and an area north of Ingersoll Avenue between 15th and 18th Streets.

Construction of the stadium is expected to begin in the summer of 2022, Easter told board members. When completed in spring 2024, the stadium is expected to attract nearly 165,000 visitors annually, according to material included in an application for state hotel/motel and sales tax revenue to help pay for the project.

Easter said Krause+ and MidAmerican Energy officials have talked about ways the substation could be shielded from public view as well as whether some of the transmission lines to the substation could be moved or buried. Easter said the discussions with MidAmerican are continuing.

“We need power, right?” he said. “The question is how do we integrate it with this project.”

In a related matter, Naomi Hamlett, Des Moines’ economic development coordinator, told board members that Krause Group officials have not yet decided whether they want to buy or lease the site on which the stadium will be located.

Des Moines took possession of the 43-acre site in late May.

The site 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list in 1983.  

Last fall, the EPA reached an agreement with the property’s former owner 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.  

The site is currently being cleaned by the EPA and city of Des Moines.

Hamlett told board members that officials from the city and Krause Group also are still determining whether streets in the development will be public or private and working on final financial details of a development agreement.

Hamlett said it will take up to 15 years for the 66-acre project to be fully developed.

The board today approved the preliminary conceptual development plan for the 66-acre project.

Related article: What’s planned around the proposed soccer stadium? Here are some details

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