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Top Des Moines business stories of 2019


Take a look back at some of the top Des Moines business stories of 2019 picked by our newsroom.

Water trails project wins $25M federal grant
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $25 million grant to the Central Iowa water trails project, setting up major construction if backers raise the local match as expected. They’ll need to cover the balance of the $31.25 million first phase. “I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until we’re done: This is happening,”  Dan Houston, chairman, president and CEO of Principal and board chairman of the Central Iowa Water Trails Incubator, said in a statement. 

$101 million entertainment district proposed in Waukee
Details of the ambitious undertaking to transform 40 acres of Waukee farmland into an entertainment destination were revealed during a November City Council meeting.

$750 million redevelopment proposed in Des Moines’ Market District
A 31-acre area in Des Moines’ Market District would be redeveloped with projects that include housing, offices, retail, entertainment and one or more hotels over the next seven to 10 years, under a proposal presented to the City Council earlier this month. When completed, the overall value of development in the area could exceed more than $750 million, said Paul Hayes of JSC Properties LLC, which is led by developer James Cownie.

100-bed joint venture hospital in Clive will be state’s largest behavioral care center
Clive Behavioral Health, a 100-bed behavioral health hospital that will also offer outpatient services, is scheduled to open in November 2020. The 83,000-square-foot facility now under construction across from MercyOne’s rehabilitation hospital is a joint venture between MercyOne-Des Moines and Universal Health Services. Based in the Philadelphia suburb of King of Prussia, Pa., UHS is the largest operator of stand-alone behavioral health hospitals in the United States. 

$60 million soccer stadium proposed for Des Moines
Blackacre Development LLC paid $7.98 million for nearly 9 acres where an outdoor sports and entertainment venue is proposed to be built, Polk County real estate records show. The transaction between Blackacre Development and Riverpoint West LLC was completed on Dec. 20. Blackacre Development is a subsidiary of Krause Group, which is proposing to build a 6,000- to 8,000-seat multiuse sports stadium that would be home to a United Soccer League Championships franchise team. Riverpoint West LLC is affiliated with Minneapolis developer George Sherman.

Social Club could become a public market
Community leaders announced they are exploring the feasibility of converting much of the financially troubled Des Moines Social Club into a public market. Malo, a popular restaurant, will remain. A new feature — Scenic Route Bakery — opened in September. The 10-year-old Social Club, located in the art deco former Fire Station No. 1 at 900 Mulberry St. downtown since 2014, announced in June it was having financial trouble and would look for a new operations model. Local leaders established a Des Moines Social Club Transition Board of Directors to help establish a public market at the site. 

DMU moves forward with plans for West Des Moines campus
Des Moines University officials confirmed in June that DMU plans to start construction next spring to begin transforming an 88-acre tract of rolling farmland into a state-of-the-art campus in West Des Moines. The new campus, to be located just east of the Microsoft data center on the northwest corner of Jordan Creek Parkway and Grand Avenue, will replace the Des Moines campus it has owned since 1972 at 3200 Grand Ave. 

Amazon officially announces it’s opening a delivery station in Grimes
Amazon.com announced that it was opening a delivery station in Grimes that will employ hundreds who will prepare packages headed to customers’ doors. The delivery station, the final stop for an order before being delivered to customers, is expected to open in 2020, according to a news release issued by the company. The Seattle-based retail giant remains mum about any ties to the construction of a fulfillment center in Bondurant on about 165 acres east of U.S. Highway 65 and north of Northeast 62nd Avenue.

University Avenue redevelopment planned
West Des Moines and Clive officials in September issued requests for proposals from 34 companies nationwide to create a redevelopment plan for the roughly 650-acre area located between University Avenue and Interstate Highway 235 and 22nd Street/Northwest 86th Street and Interstate 35/80. Redeveloping the area, which officials estimate will take between 10 and 20 years to complete, could increase property and sales tax revenue for the cities, help ease traffic congestion and spark development of multifamily residences or uses not currently found in the area, officials said. 

Principal announces $1.2 billion acquisition of Wells Fargo’s retirement businesses
Principal Financial Group in April announced a definitive agreement with Wells Fargo & Co. to acquire Wells Fargo’s Institutional Retirement & Trust business in a deal that will double the size of Principal’s retirement business.  

Three major Central Iowa accelerators announced in October
Techstars, a national network of accelerators and a venture capital firm, is partnering with Grinnell College to launch Techstars Iowa, to be located in Des Moines. Des Moines entrepreneur and former interim director for the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator Kerty Levy has joined as managing director of Techstars Iowa, which has yet to settle on a physical location in the metro. The accelerator will accept up to 10 Iowa-based startups for the first class, scheduled to run for 13 weeks from September to December 2020. The announcement marked one of three major accelerators coming to Central Iowa in October; Cultivo Global Ag Innovation Program and BrokerTech Ventures were the other two. 

Sculpture Park turns 10
Property values have tripled in the Western Gateway in the past 20 years. Since the addition of the sculpture park 10 years ago, values have increased at an even faster rate. 

Business Record honorees: 

What else? Oh, there was plenty more. Thank you for reading Business Record content – we take pride in our work helping businesses do business better. You can subscribe to our newsletters here and become a member here.

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