Downtown bank branches opening and closing; Drake's Holiday Inn shuts down; and warehouse construction still booming

Kim Norvell
Des Moines Register

Welcome to a new column about the development projects that are changing central Iowa’s landscape. As the Des Moines Register’s growth and development reporter, I hope to provide you updates on noteworthy projects but primarily want this column to be about what you, our readers, want to know. 

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In downtown, one bank branch opens while another closes

Community Choice Credit Union has opened a branch at 1408 Locust St. downtown that feels more like a community gathering space than a bank. 

The branch has loan officers, a branch manager and tellers — but with a twist. Instead of interacting with humans in-person, customers use an ITM, or Interactive Teller Machine, to communicate remotely with an employee at the company's Johnston location, said Kasey Vogel, director of brand strategy and business development. 

"You can still do everything a teller can do," she said. 

Community Choice Credit Union has opened a new branch at 1408 Locust St.

The ITM replaces a traditional ATM. Also untraditional are Community Choice's efforts to draw in community members, regardless of whether they're customers. 

The downtown branch offers free yoga on Wednesdays and live music every other Friday. It has a pop machine and swings are suspended from the ceiling. 

Nonprofit organizations can rent the space, free of charge, which comes with use of a kitchen, mezzanine, board room and audio-visual equipment.

More:Windsor Heights sets date to debate potential TIF agreement toward Aldi development

The new location is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and is open on Saturdays during festivals and other special events. 

Meanwhile, Bank of the West recently notified its customers it is closing its branch at 801 Grand Ave. for good at 2 p.m. Dec. 3. The branch manager did not return a call seeking comment on the reason for the closure. 

A person who answered the phone at 801 Grand's management office said there were no plans yet for replacing the tenant in Des Moines' signature skyscraper. Stay tuned. 

Drake Holiday Inn Express closes

The Holiday Inn Express at Drake University, 1140 24th St., has closed. The hotel had a long-term lease from Drake University, owner of the building.

Its operator "requested to terminate the lease a few months before its conclusion, which Drake granted," said university spokesperson Jarad Bernstein.

The hotel, next door to the Drake Diner, had been in operation since the 1980s, first as Drake Inn. In 1996, when Drake purchased the building, it became the Holiday Inn Express.

"Drake is currently evaluating options for the building’s use,"  Bernstein said. 

More:University Avenue near Drake being transformed as new businesses, apartments open

The university for years has been leading a charge to redevelop the neighborhood surrounding its campus, with a new extended-stay hotel, apartments, medical clinic and more.

It's logical to expect whatever Drake decides to do with the building or land will fit into its plans to create an more urban feel near campus. More to come. 

More from Kim Norvell:

Warehouse construction still booming

With an office in Clive, Minneapolis-based developer The Opus Group is busy constructing new warehouses in Des Moines' suburbs. 

In August, the company started construction on a 277,930-square-foot building with 43 vehicle parking stalls, 24 dock doors and two drive-in doors. Brown Warehouse Co., a leasing and third-party logistics company, is leasing the building, located in the Swanwood Logistics Center south of Southeast Corporate Woods Drive and east of I-35.

The Opus Group broke ground last week on a 296,300-square-foot warehouse in Ankeny.

Opus also broke ground last week for a 296,360-square-foot warehouse on another 25 acres in Swanwood. Being built on spec, it is Opus' fifth building in Ankeny.

"As we've seen with the successful leasing at Corporate Woods, there is still a strong demand for industrial space across Ankeny," Jason Conway, senior director of real estate development at Opus, said in a statement.

In Bondurant, Opus is working with Signature Commercial Real Estate on two industrial buildings at Commerce Crossings north of I-80 and east of N.E. Hubbell Avenue/Highway 65. The first, slated for completion in November, will have 195,000 square feet of floorspace. 

We've reported several times on the booming warehouse market in the Des Moines metro. The city's location at the intersection of two major interstates and its relatively inexpensive land are an ideal logistical combination. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed shoppers online, creating a greater need for e-commerce warehouse space. 

A whopping 1.4 million square feet of warehouse space is under construction now in the metro, according to JLL, which tracks the market. 

Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at knorvell@dmreg.com or 515-284-8259. Follow her on Twitter @KimNorvellDMR.