Teresa Van Vleet-Danos, owner of Rowat Cut Stone & Marble Co., talks about leaving the old location in the East Village on Tuesday, June 27, 2017.


Developers offered a first look Tuesday at the $27 million apartment complex that will replace Rowat Cut Stone & Marble Co. in a burgeoning area on the east side of downtown Des Moines.

The four-story Rowat Lofts will feature 162 apartments spanning the length of East Market Street between Southeast Sixth and Southeast Seventh streets. The Nelson Development project includes a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units.

It is part of the Market District, a quickly gentrifying industrial area south of the East Village. The city has a long-range plan that calls for replacing the area's body shops and scrap metal yards with apartments, offices and retail space.

"This is good fuel," said Erin Olson-Douglas, the city's economic development director.

Rowat Lofts is on the 2-acre site previously occupied by the Rowat Cut Stone. Founded in 1882 by John Rowat, a Scottish immigrant who came to Des Moines to help build the Capitol building, the company provided ornate stone for Des Moines City Hall, the Salisbury House and other notable buildings around the city.

It moved to Norwalk last year to make way for the neighborhood renaissance.

Rowat Lofts' U-shaped building would have walk-up units along Southeast Sixth and Southeast Seventh streets and along East Market and East Vine streets.

A private courtyard would open to a public pedestrian plaza that would be located between Rowat Lofts and District at 6th, a 211-unit apartment complex planned to be built by Indianapolis-based TWG Development.

The Rowat Lofts' preliminary design was reviewed Tuesday by city's Urban Design Review Board.

An old warehouse on the Rowat property was recently demolished, but a portion of company's antique derrick, which loomed over East Sixth Avenue for a century, was salvaged and will be re-purposed in Rowat Lofts' courtyard, said Jeff Shaffer, an architect with BNIM.

Developers plan to use gray brick, corrugated metal, cedar plank and other industrial elements "reminiscent of the historical context of the site," Shaffer said.

Two more apartment projects have also been announced for the Market District.

Construction is expected to begin this year on the District at 6th lofts. Located south of Rowat Lofts, the $40 million project replaces a former recycling center.

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The Connolly Lofts at Southeast Sixth Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway will feature 59-units built on vacant city-owned land that once housed Irwin Chemical Company and Seidenfeld Scrap Metal, which was demolished in 2002 after a fire.

Across Southeast Sixth Street from the District at 6th property is a new three-story office building and parking garage.

Other Market District projects include Blackbird Investments' office, which used to be a steam-tractor warehouse, Peace Tree Brewing's tap room, and renovation of a historic train depot into a museum and events space.

The Des Moines City Council approved a preliminary development agreement with Nelson Development on Monday that gives the Des Moines-based firm 15 years of tax increment funds. In exchange, Nelson Development will construct East Vine Street and complete streetscape improvements on Southeast Sixth and Seventh streets.

Ten percent of the 162 units will be reserved for renters making about 80 percent of the area's median income.

Construction on Rowat Lofts is expected to begin this spring and take about a year.

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