Miesblock gives nod to downtown Des Moines architectural gem
A massive indoor rainforest, an agriculture world trade center, and parks atop the skywalk are among the most audacious ideas downtown has ever seen.
Developers have released new drawings and details about a $60 million development coming to Grand Avenue and Seventh Street in downtown Des Moines.
It's the latest look at evolving efforts to replace a city-owned parking garage razed in 2015.
Nelson Construction & Development plans to start construction in the spring on a three-story commercial building with offices on the top floors and a street-level restaurant.
It is the first major component of the Miesblock project, which will occupy the now vacant half-block lot east of Seventh Street and north of Grand Avenue.
The 18,000-square-foot commercial building went before the city’s Urban Design Review Board on Tuesday for preliminary review.
The upscale restaurant will face Grand Avenue with office entrances to the west.
A plaza with a private patio for the restaurant, a public courtyard and terrace will surround the building.
A tree-lined pedestrian corridor runs from Grand Avenue to High Street between the Miesblock project and the Catholic Pastoral Center nextdoor, which is undergoing a $10 million restoration.
The Miesblock name and design gives a nod to renowned German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who designed the Catholic Pastoral Center, a hidden gem for local architects and history buffs.
Nelson hired Mies’ grandson, Dirk Lohan, as a consulting architect. Lohan is collaborating with local architecture firm BNIM, Alexander Grgurich, development analyst for Nelson, previously told the Register.
The three-story Miesblock commercial building, 665 Grand Ave., will have a first floor of clear glass. Upper levels will have a perforated metal screen and metal panels covering them.
Since first proposed by Nelson two years ago, plans for Miesblock have shrunk, shifted and even changed locations.
Nelson originally set out to build a high-rise apartment complex atop a parking garage the city planned to build on an adjacent lot. That plan fell apart when Principal Financial Group decided to buy the site from the city and build its own stand-alone parking garage.
Following the shakeup, Nelson moved its apartment project next door. The lot was once a public parking garage that spanned Seventh Street north of Grand Avenue.
Nelson's earlier plans for the site included a 12-story and then a nine-story apartment tower. The company presented its current plan in August as a way to reduce additional code-enforcement costs that arise once a building reaches 80 feet tall.
Construction of a "skywalk node" — essentially a stand-alone elevator shaft and staircase, providing a skywalk entrance in the project's plaza — will begin this fall. The city will construct a skywalk bridge connection next year.
Miesblock's final component will be a six- to eight-story apartment tower with 75 market-rate units. It will run along Seventh and High streets. Construction is anticipated in 2019 or 2020.
The city has offered Nelson a complex incentive program that includes: a $1 million forgivable loan; a $1.32 million grant for the land; a $2 million economic development grant paid out as the project progresses; and partial tax rebates for 20 years.