Here is a more extensive article about the Chinese Cultural Center from the register this morning. This is a part of the riverwalk that I had not heard about before. Sounds very exciting!
Ceremony marks launch of downtown Asian project
By JASON CLAYWORTH
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
September 28, 2004
City leaders on Monday kicked off the first phase of an Asian cultural center project, which will add another public landmark to downtown Des Moines' riverfront gateway.
Within the next year, construction on an Asian garden will be completed on a 1.7-acre site along the east side of the Des Moines River, just south of Interstate Highway 235.
The $800,000 garden project will include a three-story pavilion, waterfalls, bonsai-like evergreens and granite symbolic carvings that represent moral values in Chinese culture.
A second phase will include a $15 million 30,000-square-foot building that will be used as the headquarters for the Chinese Cultural Center of America.
"This is a monument to Iowa and its openness towards diversity," said Paul Shao, president of the center. "We are the first city in the Midwest, if not all of America, that will have a high-profile landmark right downtown."
The garden is named in honor of former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, who in the 1970s welcomed thousands of Vietnamese refugees to the state, a move seen as controversial at the time.
However, since then, Ray's action has been credited for saving the lives of hundreds of people.
About 60 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Robert D. Ray Asian Garden on Monday at the Des Moines Club, which is in the Ruan Center and overlooks the location of the future garden.
"To say the least, I'm flattered," Ray said to the crowd. "I can't tell you I deserve all this recognition, but I can tell you I'm grateful."
Much of the decorative carvings for the pavilion will be made in China and reassembled along the banks of the river. The garden will be near a planned pedestrian bridge that crosses the river near Center Street.
The bridge is part of the $26.4 million Principal Riverwalk project. Construction of some portions of the riverwalk started this year.
Money to pay for the garden was raised privately. Former Principal Financial Group chief executive David Hurd, for example, contributed $240,000. Businesses and other private donors paid the rest.
Construction of the second phase of the project is dependent upon successful fund raising.
Organizers of the center last year anticipated that a portion of the project would begin within five years.
Reporter Jason Clayworth can be reached at (515) 699-7058 email@example.com