DMRyan wrote:I'm all for this church being demolished if the right development gets proposed for the site. This little corner of Sherman Hill is really hurting. The church is crumbling down, Planned Parenthood moved their offices to the Drake Neighborhood, the Smokey Row Coffee Shop renovation is nothing but a pipe dream at this point. Some major work needs to be done on this corridor, and it's not an easy spot to develop.
I don't think the Historic District Commission should be in any rush to give the green light for demolition until an appropriate development proposal comes forward.
Full steam ahead for Smokey Row Coffee House
Posted 7/24/2008 11:46 AM CDT
The sign promising Smokey Row Coffee House will occupy the old building at 19th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue in Sherman Hill has been up for nearly three years. At last, that project appears to be moving ahead and when it's complete, it should be quite an asset to that neighborhood.
Smokey Row can be described as a coffee shop/cafe/soda fountain. Coffee will be brewed from beans roasted in Pleasantville by Smokey Row. A light menu of soups, sandwiches paninis, wraps, salads, desserts and pastries will be available. Patrons will be able to perch on stools at an old-fashioned soda fountain and order phosphates, floats and other fountain treats. And, for those in a hurry, there will be a drive-up window.
Krista and Monte Bennett, who are behind this venture, also established Smokey Row Coffee Houses in Pella, Oskaloosa and Pleasantville, which is their corporate location
Since the Bennetts bought the building, Krista said they also purchased parcels around it in order to add more parking space and to put in the drive-up window on the west side.
Plans for the building have been approved by Des Moines Historic Preservation Commission and still must go through Plan and Zoning and city approval, but once that's done the Bennett expect to move quickly to get it open, by November or even sooner.
To see more about Smokey Row Coffee Houses, check here.
D.M. cathedral is blessed with neighbors who care
More than a dozen volunteers spent Saturday deep inside a crumbling historic church cathedral near downtown Des Moines, hauling away tons of wet debris in an attempt to save the massive 107-year-old structure.
And, this week, the Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association hopes to fix the roof of the building that is allowing water to gush down multiple floors, a $5,500 roof patch that will be paid by the group and an emergency state historic preservation grant.
"It's not gone until it's gone," said Sherman Hill resident Lyn Loheed, who raked soggy pieces of ceiling tiles that had fallen to the floor.
"We've saved other buildings where people have said, 'Let's put it out of its misery and be done with it.' You get the right owner and it will turn around," Loheed said.
The building at 901 19th St., better known as Kingsway Cathedral, was constructed by Proudfoot & Bird, a prominent architectural company in the 1900s.
The company was responsible for dozens of Iowa buildings, including the Hotel Fort Des Moines, University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City, Engineering Hall at Iowa State University in Ames, and Lincoln, East and Roosevelt high schools in Des Moines.
The cathedral, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was vacated by the church in 2003 after city inspectors noted multiple structural problems.
The church unsuccessfully launched various legal challenges, including one against the state claiming much of the damage was caused by construction work on nearby Interstate Highway 235. Another was directed at Des Moines, alleging that the city's order that the church be vacated was an act of condemnation.
For much of the past two years, the cathedral was for sale for $4.5 million to $5.2 million, which included making the renovations. The assessed value of the building is around $850,000.
More than a year ago, the church's members tried to get permission from the city to demolish the building, but they encountered resistance from preservationists and city staff who have derailed plans for its demise through a series of legal maneuvers.
Most recently, the church has agreed to sell the cathedral and an adjacent duplex to Steve Smith of HES Inc. Smith is working with the neighborhood in an attempt to save the property.
The terms of the cathedral sale were not available Saturday on the Web site of the Polk County assessor.
On Saturday, a group of volunteers organized by the Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association took the first steps to "mothball" the building in an attempt to suspend further deterioration.
"Places like this will someday rival castles in Europe because they're a thing of the past," said Donna Hallstrom, president of the Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association.
While significant damage has taken place in the sanctuary, most of the cathedral is still salvageable, preservationists said.
The building's massive stained-glass windows - protected from vandalism by Plexiglas - are still in good condition, as are much of the structure's oak woodwork and ornate doors.
Councilwoman Christine Hensley, who represents Sherman Hill, said city leaders want to see the building saved. The national economic downturn could make it more challenging to quickly develop the site, but she said the city is willing to consider tax breaks and other incentives.
"I want to do what's reasonable to save it because it is an integral part of the neighborhood and is also historically significant to our city," Hensley said.
DMRyan wrote:This is a perfect example of "what if". What if the city and the historic preservation commission had caved in and let this be demolished and built on with the lowest common denominator, instead of exercising a little patience to see if the building could be saved.
We would be looking at a Kum & Go store right now, instead of the beautiful transformation this building is hopefully set to receive.
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