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Two Ruan Center to be converted to market rate apartments

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The 14-story Two Ruan Center will be converted to market rate apartments, the building’s owner announced today. The top rendering shows the rooftop of the building at 601 Locust St. The bottom left rendering is of the interior of an apartment unit. The bottom right photo is of the building’s entrance. Renderings courtesy of Foutch Brothers; photo courtesy of Google

The 14-story Two Ruan Center will be converted to 200 one- and two-bedroom market rate apartment units, the property’s owner, Ruan Inc., announced today.

Ruan is forming a joint venture with Block Real Estate Services and Foutch Brothers, both located in the Kansas City, Mo. area, to redevelop the property at 601 Locust St.

Two Ruan Center, which was developed by John Ruan Sr., opened in 1981. The adjacent 35-story Ruan Center was completed in 1973.

Two Ruan Center, which has more than 256,200 square feet of space, is largely vacant, according to a news release. The glut of vacant office space is among the 1.145 million square feet of unoccupied space in Des Moines’ central business district, according to CBRE Inc.’s second-quarter office market report. The office vacancy rate downtown was 17.52%; in the first quarter of 2023, it was 18%.

The vacancies in Two Ruan Center have contributed to the property’s declining value. Between 2007 and 2009, the property was valued at just over $16 million. In 2021, the property was valued at $11.6 million. The property’s owner challenged the assessed value, and a court reduced the property’s value to $6.7 million, which is where it remained in 2023.

Two tenants in Two Ruan Center – Smokey D’s BBQ and La Mie Elevate, both located in the skywalk level, will not be affected by the renovation of the building, according to the news release.

The release did not include information about the estimated costs of renovations or when the proposed project would be completed. Spokespeople for Ruan Inc. and Block Real Estate Services did not immediately supply the information when asked.

Block Real Estate Services is a full-service commercial real estate company that manages over 45 million square feet of retail, office, industrial property and more than 10,000 units of multifamily property for equity partnerships and third-party owners. Foutch Brothers is known across the Midwest for the design, development, construction and property management of the repurposing of historic properties. Since 2004, Foutch Brothers has produced more than 3,000 multifamily units and 2 million square feet of commercial and entertainment space.

Block Real Estate Services and Foutch have worked together on developing Class A residential projects in downtown Des Moines. In 2016, the companies redeveloped the Equitable building into multifamily housing. 

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