Iowa High-Rise Project Uncertain After Property Swap with Insurer

January 12, 2018

The developer of an $88 million high-rise project in downtown Des Moines has announced plans to trade the land to an insurance company in exchange for a portion of a downtown property.

Blackbird Investments’ announcement leaves the future of its highly anticipated apartment tower uncertain, the Des Moines Register reported . The developer plans to swap properties with EMC Insurance Companies and acquire the eastern half of an aging food court and mall, known as the Kaleidoscope at the Hub.

It’s uncertain whether the Kaleidoscope at the Hub will serve as the new site for Blackbird’s high-rise project.

“This kind of caught us all off guard,” said Matt Anderson, assistant city manager. “We have a development agreement with Blackbird … so we will obviously be sitting down with them to see what their next path is.”

Blackbird and EMC announced the deal in a joint press release, but did not provide further comment on property plans.

Both companies did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

The property exchange gives EMC a piece of real estate directly across the street from its corporate headquarters. The insurance company will keep ownership of the western half of the Kaleidoscope property.

Blackbird’s apartment tower was one of two projects that were expected to transform Des Moines’ downtown skyline.

Blackbird Investments purchased the property in 2016 for about $2.75 million.

Anderson said that Blackbird Investments had been working with the city’s permit department prior to the announcement. He said the company planned to break ground in the spring.

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