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Upscale condos coming to court


Copyright Des Moines Business Record 2003

Developers announced last week they will convert a tire building near the Court Avenue Historic District into condominium units, providing additional housing to the soon-to-be-revitalized downtown Des Moines.

WKKS LLC, a newly-formed development group, will transform the building at 120 S.W. Fifth St., now home to Des Moines Tire Co., into a property that will contain 45 to 55 condominium units priced at $99,000 or higher, officials said. Plans are under way for construction to begin next spring with the building opening in the spring of 2005.

The group’s four partners are Dave Walters, president of Walters Cos., whose company will handle the building’s construction; Kevin Kinzler, founder of Kinzler Cos., who will supply construction materials to the project; Tanner Kinzler, an employee of his father’s company; and Jeff Schachtner, a pilot for United Airlines. They said they are conducting due diligence to purchase the property from the Herbert Rott Estate in North Dakota and that they have submitted bids to secure an architect. They said they plan to finalize both matters in the coming weeks.

Preliminary plans to call the development White Line Lofts have also yet to be finalized, the developers said. But they are using that name as an Internet domain (www.whitelinelofts) where buyers can sign up to get up-to-date information by e-mail about the availability of units and receive discounted pre-sale prices. An on-site sales office will also open in the near future.

Tanner Kinzler and Schachtner, residents of the Brown-Camp Lofts, said the White Line Lofts will include some of the amenities found at their current home, including large windows, ample green space, 28 underground parking spaces, rooftop terraces, two elevators and the opportunity to design your own loft. They want to replace each unit’s outer brick wall with glass and add balconies or patios, giving residents a view of Des Moines’ skyline.

“It’s going to be a pretty awesome place,” Tanner Kinzler said. “We’ve been interested in this building for about four years. It has structural and historical integrity and it’s in a great location.”

Each floor of the seven-story building, which was built in 1912, contains 8,787 square feet, which the developers said, could be divided into as many as 10 units. Those units could range in size from one-bedroom, 600-square-foot soft-lofts to four-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot penthouses, depending on the buyer’s needs. Schachtner said buyers can solicit the services of the building’s architect or their own architect to design their living space.

“The higher-end units will be flexible on square footage,” he said. “Someone can buy a whole floor if they like.”

The developers say the building’s proximity to Court Avenue will help draw buyers who want to live, work and play downtown. They said its location affords residents the opportunity to live on a quiet street while being able to walk to neighboring restaurants and entertainment venues.

“We’ll offer a building that’s upscale in a quieter area that’s not on Court,” Schachtner said. “In the next two to three years, the population of downtown Des Moines is going to change, and we want to be able to offer them a unique urban lifestyle.”

White Line Lofts is the latest in a series of recently announced downtown housing projects. This summer, city officials approved a proposal by Court Avenue Partners, a partnership of Jim Hubbell III and Harry Bookey, for the development of residential properties that include 244 mixed-income apartment units on Court Avenue.

In the East Village, tenants are already moving into the Capitol Lofts and a proposal by Knapp Properties Inc. and Hatch Development Group to develop the former site of Dewey Ford into 28 condominium units has been approved by the city.

Earlier this month, the Coppola family, owners of the Kirkwood Civic Center Hotel, closed the landmark with the hopes it will be purchased by a developer who will convert it into apartments or condominiums.

Des Moines Mayor Preston Daniels said such projects bring people and excitement to the community.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Daniels said of the announcement of the new project. “It’s what we’ve been talking about, getting the level of development raised so we can attract people to take on these projects.”

Kinzler said he and his partners share the mayor’s excitement about downtown.

“All of us have some development experience and we believe in downtown,” Kinzler said. “We want to raise the bar here.”  

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