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Old Posted Apr 5, 2017, 3:06 PM
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Des Moines to build its first skyscraper since the 90s

Des Moines is poised to build their first skyscraper in 20 years with this new hotel/apartment building from Mandelbaum. There was a bit of a quarrel between two developers for the right to build on the land, which has recently ended. Here is the article and some pictures of the building.

Mandelbaum wins tower battle; Blackbird withdraws

Des Moines' downtown tower duel ended as abruptly as it started Monday with a behind-the-scenes deal.

Mandelbaum Properties on Monday won back the right to build an apartment tower near Court Avenue after a surprise announcement from rival developer Blackbird Investments, which said it was withdrawing its recently submitted proposal for the same site.

Hours later, the Des Moines City Council voted to sell the property at Fifth and Court avenues to Mandelbaum, but with new timelines that require all aspects of the project to break ground by October 2019. A previous agreement would have given Mandelbaum until 2028 to finish the 32-story, $111 million development.

Justin Mandelbaum, a principal with Mandelbaum Properties who has been working on the proposal for more than two years, only to recently see it in jeopardy, had a wide grin on his face when he addressed the City Council Monday.

"The most important thing to us is making sure we deliver a project that can get done," he said.

Blackbird's surprise exit marked the end of an unprecedented, and at times contentious, showdown between the two developers. Never before had Des Moines seen two firms compete head-on for a city-owned property in such a way, let alone two skyscraper developers, city officials have said.

Mandelbaum had been working for nearly two years on his proposal to redevelop a decommissioned city parking garage at Fifth and Court avenues. He was preparing to close the deal last month, when Blackbird made a last-minute bid to acquire the property.

PREVIOUSLY: Mandelbaum tower getting subsidies for parking ramp | How Des Moines' dueling skyscrapers stack up

Days later, Blackbird appeared to gain the upper hand when city planners picked its proposal over Mandelbaum's. Just hours before the City Council was scheduled to make the final decision, a deal was reached where Mandelbaum changed parts of its proposal, with Blackbird bowing out.

In an emailed statement, officials with Blackbird said they decided to scrap their proposal because Mandelbaum agreed to faster timelines and a larger hotel as part of his project.

"Upon the inclusion of these elements added by Mandelbaum Properties, we are satisfied with what the project has turned out to be," the statement said. "We have chosen to withdraw our proposal because our objectives have been met by the city receiving a better overall agreement. We wish the best for Mandelbaum Properties and look forward to seeing the completed project."

Mandelbaum's proposal calls for an apartment and hotel tower facing Walnut Street, a movie theater facing Court Avenue and a parking garage in the middle of the block.

The updated agreement approved Monday gives Mandelbaum the option to build a hotel along Court Avenue in place of a theater. The hotel must be at least 150 rooms if built on Court Avenue and at least 84 if built on Walnut as part of the tower.

Previously, the agreement called for a 50-room hotel.

Under the new deadlines approved Monday by the City Council, Mandelbaum must:

Finish the parking garage by Oct. 31, 2019.
Start construction on the theater or hotel facing Court Avenue by Oct. 31, 2019.
Start construction on the Walnut Street tower by Oct. 31, 2019.
Reopen skywalk sections by Sept. 1, 2022.
Mandelbaum said he intends to beat the deadlines.

"We are highly motivated to deliver this project as quickly as possible," he said.

City Councilman Chris Coleman said he had "buyer's remorse" about the original agreement, which gave Mandelbaum until 2028 to finish the project. He said the new deal "tilts the leverage back to the city."

City Councilman Bill Gray said he hopes the tower will be around for his great-great-grandchildren to see.

"It's going to be a hallmark for Des Moines," he said.

Blackbird's proposal also called for a parking garage, a housing tower and a hotel. The city's economic development staff had recommended Blackbird's project because it promised faster timelines, offered more public benefits and asked for smaller tax breaks than Mandelbaum's original proposal.

City Council member Christine Hensley, whose ward includes downtown, said the challenge from Blackbird improved Mandelbaum's project.

"I think in the long run, that has been extremely positive because you ultimately ended up with a better project," she said.

During a public meeting last month, Mandelbaum argued that Blackbird could be challenging his proposal simply as a way to reduce the competition for Blackbird's other proposed skyscraper.

Blackbird plans to build a 33-story apartment tower on the former Younkers building site at Seventh and Walnut streets.

From the start, officials with Blackbird said their Fifth Avenue proposal should be taken as seriously as Mandelbaum's. Justin Doyle, a principal with Blackbird, rebutted any notion that he made his proposal as a way to derail a competing project.

"I don't play for second place," Doyle told the Register last month. "We very much want to build this."







This is a picture of the losing bid from Blackbird


Last edited by FFX-ME; Apr 5, 2017 at 3:18 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2017, 7:34 AM
TallBob TallBob is offline
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Man that's a huge podium!!
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2017, 2:21 PM
LouisVanDerWright LouisVanDerWright is offline
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Doesn't Des Moines have multiple skyscrapers in the pipeline? I know of this site, but is there also one proposed for the Yonkers site?
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2017, 5:24 PM
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FFX-ME FFX-ME is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LouisVanDerWright View Post
Doesn't Des Moines have multiple skyscrapers in the pipeline? I know of this site, but is there also one proposed for the Yonkers site?
You're right! I was actually not aware of that tower. It's then a good think Blackbird lost the Court avenue site since the chances of both being built are then higher (the one at the Younker's site is to be developed by blackbird)

Still, very exciting that the city is finally building up.
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Old Posted Jul 18, 2017, 8:45 PM
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Reminds me a bit of the Greektown Casino and Hotel in Detroit, but potentially better looking. Good news for Des Moines.
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Old Posted Jul 20, 2017, 2:45 PM
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Des Moines has done amazing things to their downtown adding activities and density, but I'm glad they're going taller. I know their population has grown around 56% from the 1990's to today, from 416,000 to 650,000. They've added over 100,000 jobs to their base since the 1990's, and it's a very much white collar/professional market.

If they keep stressing downtown and pushing that as a growth point, they certainly have the jobs and people in the pipeline to fill projects.
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Old Posted Sep 24, 2017, 6:03 PM
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Updated renderings of The Fifth (September 2017, Mandelbaum Properties, Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz):






Additional details about The Fifth project on UrbanDSM.com: The Fifth project page
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2017, 12:14 AM
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^Damn, that's a great looking tower! Why can't SCB design something this interesting in Chicago?
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2017, 2:42 AM
twister244 twister244 is online now
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Wow, go Des Moines! I grew up in Des Moines (live in Denver now). I remember when the EMC building going up when I was a kid. Great to see a potentially new third-tallest for the city. Looks like it would be a great addition with a glass facade.

Good luck in getting this off the ground!
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2017, 7:21 PM
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This is an awesome add to Des Moines which has a great skyline for the city its size.
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