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Kirkwood Hotel to have new life


Call it “Extreme Makeover – Hotel Edition.”

Soon, workers will apply sledgehammers to the walls of the Kirkwood Civic Center Hotel’s guest rooms to begin the makeover of the historic structure into a 63-unit apartment building.

The announcement of the project came less than six months after the hotel’s owners, the Coppola family, closed the 12-story landmark. It’s a major step toward realization of their promise that the building would play a “vital role in the future of downtown Des Moines.”

At its March 8 meeting, the Des Moines City Council voted to approve a $1.1 million loan to Metro Engineers Inc., an Omaha developer chosen by the Coppolas to redevelop the property. The family, through its Randolph Investment Corp., has owned the hotel since 1974.

The building’s location near the Court Avenue entertainment district and its access to the skywalk system will allow the apartments to command market-rate rents, said Joe Coppola, one of the owners. The one- and two-bedroom units will go for $850 to $1,200 per month.

Developing the spaces as affordable housing units had been considered, Coppola said, but with a number of other projects of that type projects already planned for downtown, the family opted for market-rate units.

Because of the expertise of Metro Engineers, the development will be “market-rate units done very nicely,” Coppola said.

“We have lined up a fabulous developer who has a wonderful track record, and who has the same vision we have: to deliver this property to a new life,” he said.

Plans for the complex include a fitness center, and parking for 63 vehicles in the adjoining parking garage. The development may also include some decorative touches in the hallways that reflect the history of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s possible that in the future the building will also contain some condominium units, ranging in size from 800 to 1,200 square feet, he said.

Renovation work should begin by early summer, within 45 days from the time all the agreements are signed, Coppola said.

“We believe it to be doable within 12 months once it begins,” he said.   

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