Des Moines high-rise project adds boutique hotel, art museum
A planned tower along Fifth Avenue between Walnut Street and Court Avenue has grown from 32 to 39 floors. The project's estimated cost has reached $170 million.
Des Moines’ next skyscraper will feature a boutique hotel with a lobby that looks more like an art gallery than a place to check into rooms.
The 21C Museum Hotel will have 131 luxury rooms, including a 2,500-square-foot presidential suite on the top floor, said Justin Mandelbaum, principal at Mandelbaum Properties.
It will feature curated modern art in the lobby and on the skywalk level.
The hotel is part of The Fifth, Mandelbaum's 40-story multi-use development at Fifth Avenue and Walnut Street in downtown Des Moines.
“We are very excited about bringing 21C here,” Mandelbaum said. “This project helps support our commitment to the local art scene.”
The artwork in the 21C will include paintings, sculpture, photography, film, performance, video and digital art from new and established artists from all over the world. Work will feature large-scale or interactive permanent pieces “in unexpected locations,” the company said.
21C is based in Louisville, Kentucky, and has locations in Louisville; Cincinnati; Bentonville, Arkansas; Durham, North Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Mandelbaum said he had been considering hotel possibilities for The Fifth when his mother suggested 21C. She had recently stayed at the Bentonville location and was impressed, he said.
“Des Moines was not on their radar when I cold-called them,” Mandelbaum said. “But I knew once I brought them here, the city would sell itself.”
Hotel officials were attracted to the activity, investment and development taking place downtown, said Phillip Allen, the company's chief development officer and general counsel.
A group visited the city for the first time in August and toured Mandelbaum's Mainframe Studios, the nonprofit artists' studios created in the former Qwest Communications building downtown, as well as the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the Des Moines Art Center.
“We were impressed with the level of sophistication in Des Moines,” Allen said.
“It all seemed like a great fit. Des Moines seems to embrace all sorts of art,” he said. “We also like the substantial number of people moving into downtown Des Moines. We built our brand in cities similar in size to Des Moines and we like to see young people moving into the urban core.”
Hotel rooms will each have a piece of permanent art created mostly by 21C co-founder Laura Lee Brown, a painter and photographer. Rotating exhibitions of contemporary art will be displayed in the public spaces in the hotel, he said. 21C has a base of about 2,500 pieces of contemporary art that it continues to add to and share, he said.
"We are also excited because this is the first mixed-use project we'll be in," Allen said.
Des Moines will be 21C's first new construction in a high-rise building. All but one of the company’s other hotels are in renovated historic buildings, Allen said.
The timeline for construction on The Fifth starts this summer with the parking garage, which runs along 5th Avenue. The city has mandated that the garage be completed in 2020.
Mandelbaum said the designs of the tower, which includes the hotel and apartments, and a third building housing a movie theater should be completed early next year, with construction to start in 2019 and wrap up in 2021.
Des Moines-based contractor Weitz Co. is working on the project, Mandelbaum said.
Other updates to The Fifth, a three-building development with a hotel, 208 luxury apartments and a 600-space parking garage include:
- Fourteen more hotel rooms than originally planned.
- An additional floor, boosting the hotel and apartment tower from 39 to 40 stories.
- A spacious 'presidential suite' that also could be used as event space.
- A restaurant with a menu designed by its chef.
- An eight-screen, dine-in movie theater will feature all reclining seats.