Des Moines is geographically located in the heart of Iowa and is part of Polk and Warren Counties. Des Moines was incorporated on September 22, 1851, originally as Fort Des Moines, and later shortened to Des Moines in 1857. Interstate 235 runs through the middle of the City, making it easy for residents to access the rest of the Metro. Des Moines has a city population of 207,510. There are approximately 81,369 households with an average household size of 2.4, and a median household income of $42,986. Des Moines' top five employers include Principal Life Insurance Company, Wells Fargo Bank, Iowa Health, Des Moines Independent School District, and Mercy Hospital Medical Center.
Entertainment and shopping opportunities are endless in Des Moines. Here are a few:
Downtown Farmers' Market - Every Saturday (May 5 - October 27) from 7 a.m. - Noon. The Downtown Farmers' Market presents Iowa producers from 51 counties across Iowa, offering fresh fruit, vegetables, and much more. People can purchase fresh herbs, beautiful flowers, farm fresh eggs, wine from three local wineries, a delicious assortment of locally made goat cheese, an endless selection of fresh baked goods, and many varieties of Iowa raised meat such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb, buffalo, ostrich, and tilapia.
Iowa Events Center - The Iowa Events Center is a multi-venue complex owned by Polk County. Venues include: Wells Fargo Arena, a 17,000 seat arena that opened July 12, 2005. The arena has been a consistent top 100 concert facility as ranked by Pollstar Magazine. It hosts the Iowa High School State Wrestling and Basketball Tournaments annually, and is the home for the NBA D-League's 2010 Champion Iowa Energy, and the AFL's Iowa Barnstormers. Hy-Vee Hall opened in the fall of 2004 and is the state's largest exhibit hall with 100,000 square-feet of exhibit space and eight breakout meeting rooms. Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center is connected to Hy-Vee Hall and Wells Fargo Arena and boasts 29 meeting rooms, the state's largest ballroom, and a tribute to Iowa's military past, present and future in Memorial Hall.
Gray's Lake - The 167-acre Gray's Lake Park is located on the southwest edge of downtown Des Moines. The park has a lighted two-mile trail encircling the lake which is connected by a 1/4 mile pedestrian bridge. The bridge is well lit offering a beautiful site from Fleur Drive. There is a boat rental facility at the southwest corner of the lake with concessions available.
80/35 Music Festival - This is a multi-day music festival that celebrates music and the people who support music. The name comes from the two prominent interstates, I-80 and I-35, that meet at the corner of Des Moines. The festival includes a stage for national touring bands and several smaller stages featuring regional and local supporting acts. In addition to music, there are resting places, interactive art, food and beverage sales, and booths for local organizations. Each year there are nearly 40 national, regional, and local bands performing for approximately 30,000 attendees.
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park - The 4.4-acre park, located within a major crossroads of the urban grid, is a pedestrian friendly entranceway to downtown Des Moines. This accessible setting, coupled with the skilled landscape design and caliber of art, makes it unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. The Pappajohns' contribution of 27 works for the park is the most significant donation of artwork ever made to the Des Moines Art Center and features artwork by 21 of the world's most celebrated artists.
Court District - Downtown Des Moines - This is an entertainment district that includes restaurants, bars and a variety of housing options. There are 29 businesses serving food and alcohol in the Court District. The area frequently holds seasonal events and pub crawls, but its most popular event is likely to be the Downtown Farmers' Market, which is held on Saturday mornings.
Iowa Cubs - The Iowa Cubs are a Triple-A minor league baseball team affiliated with the Chicago Cubs. They play in the Pacific Coast League. The Cubs' home games are played at Principal Park in Des Moines. Principal Park seats 11,500 fans and frequently has fireworks after games.
Iowa Barnstormers - The Barnstormers are an arena football team based in Des Moines. They are currently members of the Arena Football League (AFL), which they joined in 2010 following the organization's restructuring. They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena, known in arena football circles as "The Well".
Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater - The Amphitheater is located downtown just south of City Hall and sits on the east side of the river. Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater has a capacity of 2,000 and is home to the Nitefall on the River Concert Series.
Iowa State Fair - This is an annual state fair held in Des Moines and is one of the largest fairs in the country. The fairgrounds comprise over 445 acres and have annual attendance of approximately 1,000,000. Attractions include the world famous Butter Cow, a 10-acre Midway with its double Ferris wheel, one of the world's largest livestock shows, the country's largest state fair foods department (more than 900 classes), the state's largest arts show with over 600 exhibitors, and more than 50 foods on-a-stick.
Blank Park Zoo - The zoo is comprised of 22 acres on the south side of Des Moines near historic Fort Des Moines. The zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is the only accredited zoo in Iowa. Blank Park Zoo has approximately 1,500 animals, making up 200 species. The zoo has over 400,000 visitors, annually.
The Fleur Cinema - This cinema is an independent movie theater that shows art house and indie films often not played elsewhere in the Metro. The theater is designed with colorful retro and contemporary décor, and offers wine, beer, coffee, and sandwiches at the cinema's cafe, all of which you can take into the theater with you.
The Principal Riverwalk - This features lighted, landscaped public spaces, world-class public art and unique pedestrian bridges and pathways that connect 300 miles of Central Iowa trails. The project was a gift to the City of Des Moines in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Principal Financial Group.
Science Center of Iowa (SCI) - SCI is a 110,000 square-foot learning opportunity in the heart of Downtown Des Moines. The Science Center of Iowa includes, but is not limited to themed experience platforms, live programs and demonstrations by the SCI team, a 50 foot domed digital planetarium called the Star Theater, a 216-seat, six-story Blank IMAX Dome Theater, The Food Chain Café, a gift store, and a preschool.
Wakonda Club - The club is one of the premier private country clubs in the Des Moines Metro, with its golf course that is consistently ranked in the top three courses in the state of Iowa, superior clubhouse, exquisite tennis program, and three different sized pools. Wakonda Club is like no other country club in the Metro.
Des Moines Botanical Center - The Botanical Center is a structure filled with gardens in central Des Moines and is one of the most popular cultural attractions in Iowa providing educational, recreational, and community resources to thousands each year. It is located on 14 acres along the east bank of the Des Moines River, close to downtown.
Des Moines Arts Festival - The festival has received over 150 industry awards, including the prestigious Grand Pinnacle Award from the International Festivals and Events Association. The annual Arts Festival is held in Western Gateway Downtown Des Moines. Each year the Festival features visual art, live music, performing arts and activities, along with the Interrobang Film Festival. The Des Moines Arts Festival has been recognized by a number of associations and trade magazines, making it one of the most celebrated events in Iowa.
For over 100 years Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) has been educating the students for Iowa's capital city. DMPS is the largest provider of public education in Iowa, with more than 30,000 students and nearly 5,000 teachers and staff at work in more than 60 schools throughout the community. The students, parents, teachers and staff come from many different backgrounds, all of which contribute to the richness of a DMPS education. DMPS boasts the largest variety of educational programs, many of them nationally renowned, in Iowa. DMPS has the state's only International Baccalaureate curriculum and the only public Montessori school. According to the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education, DMPS' Central Academy's "record of excellence with Advanced Placement is an honor for the entire state of Iowa," producing more National AP Scholars in one recent year than 13 entire states! The Downtown School is regarded as a national model. Several schools feature continuous calendars throughout the year, and DMPS' Career & Tech Institute delivers training in everything from culinary arts to aviation technology, a scope that is rare in districts with comparable profiles. Over the last decade a comprehensive and ongoing capital improvements campaign has renovated and updated many of DMPS' schools, 44 of which have now earned the Energy Star designation.
Des Moines also has portions of the Carlisle, Southeast Polk, Johnston, and Urbandale School Districts within the City limits.
Des Moines has received numerous awards and recognitions, including:
- Kiplinger ranks Des Moines #1 Best Cities for Families in July 2012
- Forbes ranks Des Moines #4 Best Places for Business and Careers in June 2012
- Forbes ranks Des Moines-West Des Moines #2 Best Cities for Jobs this Summer In June 2012
- Tech Journal ranks Des Moines #2 Strongest Local Economy in June 2012
- The Business Journals ranks Des Moines #10 Most Educated Young Workforce in May 2012
- Forbes ranks Des Moines #2 for Best Cities for Jobs in March 2012
- Country Living Magazine recognizes Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market as One of America's Best in March 2012
- Forbes ranks Greater Des Moines #1 Best City for Young Professionals in July 2012
- US News & World Report says Des Moines is the #1 Richest Metro in the Nation in June 2012
- Time Magazine says Des Moines the #1 City in the US for Home Renters in June 2011
- MarketWatch says Des Moines is the #3 Best City for Business
- Kiplinger ranks Des Moines in the Top 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade
- Parenting Magazine ranks Des Moines #5 For Best Cities for Families. Based on great schools, affordable homes, low crime rates, jobs, and parkland in June 2011
- Brookings calls Des Moines One of the 20 Strongest-Performing Metro Areas
- The Council for Community and Economic Research recognizes that Des Moines living costs are 10 percent below the national average
- Forbes ranks Des Moines #1 Best Cities for Clean Drinking Water.
Des Moines has both tax abatement and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) available. Tax abatement is offered as a 5-year, 100 percent tax abatement on new construction, or as a 10-year declining abatement on new construction. Targeted neighborhoods near the City's core feature a 10-year, 100 percent abatement on new residential construction. TIF is available in select urban renewal areas. Currently, Des Moines is in need of mid-range single-family housing and more downtown rental units.
For more information on Des Moines, please visit www.DMGov.org.
For more information on building in Des Moines, please contact the Deputy Building Official, Cody Christensen in the Permit and Development Center at (515) 283-4989.
For more information on developing in Des Moines, please contact the Permit and Development Center Administrator, Ross Stafford in the Permit and Development Center at (515) 283-4517.