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EMC, Blackbird plan major downtown land swap


EMC Insurance Co. plans to acquire the vacant parcel at 701 Walnut St. in downtown Des Moines where a high-rise apartment building had been planned, under a property exchange with the site’s owner, Blackbird Investments, according to a release.

In exchange, Blackbird will receive the east block of the Kaleidoscope at the Hub at 555 Walnut St. from EMC, which will retain ownership of Hub Tower at 699 Walnut St. as well as the west block of the Kaleidoscope.

Blackbird is one of two developers that have announced plans for residential towers downtown, with the latest iteration of its project including a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments. Mandelbaum Properties also plans a luxury high-rise as part of a redevelopment of the former parking ramp at Fifth and Walnut streets. The demolition of the ramp is nearly complete.

The property exchange is subject to due diligence and other contingencies, and both companies will have no further comments until the purchase is finalized, according to a release issued by EMC.

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