Once-novel parking garage falls, making room for DM tower
In the late 1950s, the ramp taught visitors to park their own cars ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â and it was a spot to watch the USSR's Nikita Khrushchev.
By DAVID ELBERT
REGISTER BUSINESS EDITOR
August 23, 2006
Demolition began this week on the parking garage across from the Hotel Fort Des Moines, closing one chapter in city history, even as a new era is about to begin.
The original ramp was built in 1957 at a time when travel was more formal. Doormen and bellhops were in vogue, and the hotel staff had to remind guests that the ramp across the street was a "self-parking" facility, hotel owner Jeff Hunter said.
The four-level ramp at 10th and Walnut streets will be replaced by a 13-story multipurpose tower that will be the first of its kind in Des Moines, with two stories of retail space at street level, followed by seven levels of parking and topped with four stories of office space.
The half-block-long building will be called the Davis Brown Tower, in honor of a longtime Des Moines law firm that will move from the Financial Center on Walnut Street to occupy the top floors.
Construction of the $40 million building will begin once the old parking ramp is demolished, in about four to six weeks, said Darrell Ball of Ball Construction Services, which will manage the project for Ladco Development. Completion is slated for late 2007.
The original four-level ramp was one of the earliest self-parking structures in downtown Des Moines. The downtown's earliest parking ramps were built in the 1920s, staffed by attendants who parked vehicles for customers.
Hotel owner Hunter, who is a history buff, found a memo dated Oct. 29, 1957 - one week before the ramp across from the hotel opened - detailing how the parking facility would operate.
In the memo, Fort Des Moines manager Joseph E. Whalen told his staff: "Many of you will be asked questions about this, and - just as a reminder - it will be a self-parking operation where the patrons will park their own car and lock it, if they desire."
In a later memo, Whalen noted that, for liability reasons, "hotel employees are not permitted to park a car in the Parkade (as the ramp was then called), nor to get it for a guest."
The north end of the old ramp has a concrete spiral that cars used to descend from the upper floors.
That helix is located directly across from the hotel's front entrance and served as a viewing stand in 1959 when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev spent a night at the hotel.
A newspaper article at the time estimated that 25,000 people crowded around the hotel the day of the premier's departure, hoping to see the world leader, whose visit was accompanied by rifle-toting, uniformed police.
The new Davis Brown Tower will replicate the helix of the current ramp with a conical feature on the same corner.
Davis Brown Tower
LOCATION: 10th Street between Walnut and Mulberry streets, across from Hotel Fort Des Moines
SIZE: 13 stories
COST: $40 million
FEATURES: Two levels (21,000 square feet) of retail; seven levels (770 spaces) of parking; four levels (112,000 square feet) of office space
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS: This fall, after the existing 500-car ramp is demolished
DURING CONSTRUCTION: Hotel guests and others who use the lot will use the Allied Insurance parking ramp on Walnut Street west of the hotel.
COMPLETION: Late 2007
LEAD TENANTS: Davis Brown law firm (top two floors), Hotel Fort Des Moines (parking)
DEVELOPER: Ladco Development
CONSTRUCTION MANAGER: Ball Construction Services
ARCHITECT: RDG Planning and Design
Ingersoll1978 wrote:LOL...Now I get it. LOL
I wander what was meant by the "real" message? I noticed that when Kevin and I were down there.
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