Demolition approved for historic Highland Park apartments

Photo: Getty Images

(Des Moines, IA) -- The Des Moines City Council approved a proposal Monday to demolish a Highland Park apartment building built in 1915.

Invest DSM Executive Director Amber Lynch says the organization worked to rehabilitate the Highland Apartments building at Sixth and Euclid Avenues for more than two years.

"There are two primary challenges with rehab. One is the significant cost of construction which is estimated at around $6 million," said Lynch. "The other is the project's ability to cash flow. With only 14 small apartment units and two commercial bays, there are not enough units to offset the cost of construction."

Des Moines engineers and local contractors working with Invest DSM found the building is in too poor a condition to save.

Residents spoke at the city council hearing with varying sympathy for the historic building.

"My biggest concern is what happened in Davenport," said Donald Armstrong. "The safety--if that ever happened, and then with pedestrians passing by, all the sudden [the building] could get right at them."

Highland Park homeowner Carrie Kelso said she wants the city to learn from the loss of the Highland Apartments building to protect other historic buildings.

"I just hope, as a result of this, maybe consider how we hold landlords responsible, so these buildings don't get to this disrepair," said Kelso.

Councilmember Connie Boesen agreed with the sentiment.

"We need to be more proactive, as was brought up, on how we can make sure structures are kept sound because we do have a lot of older buildings," said Boesen. "We've seen other buildings go down because people choose not to take care of them."

The city council delayed yesterday's decision for more than a month after developers requested time to see what could be done.

Invest DSM is looking for a developer to take over the property after the demolition.

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