News

Clemens building sold; luxury apartments planned

By:  Joel Aschbrenner

Plans to renovate the Clemens building, the former home of Raccoon River Brewing, are coming into focus.

Blackbird Investments, a relatively new local development firm, bought the six-story downtown building last week for $1.5 million, according to Polk County records. The company plans to convert it into 44 market-rate apartments with space for a 5,300-square-foot restaurant or retailer on the sidewalk level.

Interior demolition is scheduled to begin Sept. 15. The project is slated to be completed in spring 2016.

The apartments will be designed with an “urban loft aesthetic,” featuring amenities like polished concrete floors and a rooftop patio and clubhouse, according to a news release from Blackbird. The building will include eight two-story, two-bedroom apartments, half of which will occupy the top floors and feature private rooftop patios.

Several local developers have proposed luxury downtown apartments that promise high-end views and amenities and figure to test the market for more expensive rental rates.

“However, the Clemens building will be among the first to actually hit the market,” Blackbird partner Ryan Doyle said in the news release.

To learn what young renters want in an apartment, Blackbird held a round-table in July with 18 local residents under 35. Based on the discussion, the company added to rooftop patio, fitness center and other amenities to the design.

The Clemens building was built in 1916 as an auto showroom on the edge of downtown’s “auto row.” More recently it was home to Raccoon River and offices. The brewery closed in March in anticipation of the building’s sale.

Blackbird Investments recently bought the fire-damaged downtown Younkers building, which it plans to renovate into apartments. It’s also working on a project to convert the former Fort Des Moines barracks in south Des Moines into apartments.

Original from The Des Moines Register.