Downtown Revitalization – Des Moines

It’s Des Moines, Hip & New

The capital of Iowa has long had a reputation as not so hip, less interesting and less dynamic than other cities in the Midwest; a quiet insurance town set amid the unending corn fields of flyover country that the young and ambitious flee as soon as they graduate.

But unbeknownst to many outside the Midwest, over the past 15 years Des Moines has transformed into one of the richest, most vibrant, and, yes, hip cities in the country, where the local arts scene, entrepreneurial startups and established corporate employers are all thriving.

Des Moines today has a hip crowd and all of the restaurants, clubs, brewpubs and tech startups that have come with it. The city of Des Moines oozes with coolness.

Des Moines Teamwork Made It Happen!

The public money that went into many of the major Des Moines renovations came with conditions that required the business and philanthropic communities to also make significant investments in the overall renovation plan. Investors had to lock themselves together in an all-or-nothing approach to ensure success.

The public-private partnerships, along with leadership, vision and regionalism are the keys to this downtown revitalization success, according to many business leaders, community groups and politicians.

Des Moines Accolades Abound

In recent years Des Moines has been named the nation’s richest (by U.S. News) and economically strongest city (Policom), its best for young professionals (Forbes), families (Kiplinger), home renters (Time), businesses and careers (Forbes). It has the highest community pride in the nation, according to a Gallup poll last year, and in October topped a Bloomberg analysis of which cities in the United States were doing the best at attracting millennials to buy housing.

In just ten years, Des Moines has added a science center, a David Chipperfield-designed   library, a convention center, improved the river area, helped the ballpark, rehabbed the old library, built housing, and created a new outdoor park and $40 million sculpture garden.

Des Moines is a Model

City planners point out that Des Moines has the potential to become the model for 21st century city revitalization projects. The unique cultural ethos of working together and good manners that’s helped account for Iowa’s stability, its ability to be collaborative and visionary, and engaging leadership to embrace complete revitalization of a Midwestern city has created an impressive model for others to follow.

And Des Moines is not done yet as they continue to plan for further expansion and renovation. Current plans call for an airport renovation, public transportation expansion, major convention hotel and many more hip art venues, coffee shops, brewpubs and millennials.

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