The following article was initially published on Nov. 7, 2019 via the Des Moines Register.
The first nosegrind at Des Moines’ skate park — the nation’s largest.
Construction of a stadium that could bring high-level professional soccer to central Iowa.
And the opening of two historic hotels that have undergone years-long rehabilitations.
These are a few of the 10 things to keep an eye on next year in downtown Des Moines.
The Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce released its list of development projects to watch in 2020 during a program Thursday at the Science Center of Iowa.
Here’s what we have to expect:
The federal courthouse
The $137 million federal courthouse will begin to take shape next year. Under construction now, it is scheduled to open in 2022.
The nine-story structure will be located on the west bank of the Des Moines River at 101 Locust St., site of the former Riverfront YMCA, which was demolished in 2015. Des Moines is one of five U.S. cities getting new federal court facilities to alleviate space and security concerns.
“It’s going to change the sky-scape of our riverfront,” said Tim Leach, senior vice president of downtown development for the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “And it’s going to be fun to watch it go up.”
The arrival of e-scooters
A group of Des Moines officials is gathering to consider how electric scooters could be used downtown. They’re looking at issues such as safety, cleanliness and equity before determining whether private e-scooter sharing companies can launch their services.
Users would be able to rent the scooters, powered by small electric motors, using a smartphone app. While supporters herald the scooters as a solution to urban traffic congestion, critics have condemned them as a nuisance that endangers pedestrians and litters city sidewalks (riders generally can leave scooters anywhere they want when they’re done with them).
Despite these and other concerns, cities across the country have embraced the scooters, and Des Moines is considering them as an option.
“I think that micro-mobility is coming, so it’s time to get out ahead of it,” Leach said.
A professional soccer stadium
If the planners can secure funding, Des Moines could see the start of construction on a new professional soccer stadium on the south side of downtown next year.
The 6,000- to 8,000-seat stadium would be home to a USL Championship soccer club that could begin play by 2022. It would be part of a mixed-use development with restaurants, retail and office space near Southwest 14th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. The 13-acre site would cost about $95 million to develop.
The development team has yet to secure the public funding it is seeking to help pay for the project. But it plans to purchase the land before the end of the year.
“There’s a ways to go but I think it’s visionary,” Leach said.
It’s not the only potential soccer-related project in Des Moines. The city is considering spending $30 million to upgrade its James W. Cownie Soccer Complex southeast of downtown in order to secure larger youth sports tournaments.
U.S. Youth Soccer announced Wednesday that the Cownie complex will host the organization’s 2021 National Presidents Cup. This type of tournament wouldn’t be possible without that investment, said James Spiller, director of design for Blackbird Investments.
To read more about the exciting additions coming to Des Moines, click here.