Design Workshop 12/15 – Workshop #1 Recap

Greetings Historic West Des Moines! Please join us on Wednesday, December 15th at 5:30 pm at Stilwell Junior High for the Design Collaborative Workshop. This workshop will focus on gathering local input to create Design Guidelines for Historic West Des Moines. Please bring your fully charged phone, tablet, or laptop device to take part in a live Visual Preference Survey. The survey will ask folks to rate a series of images showcasing architecture, building materials, streetscape, and more. We look forward to seeing you soon!

NOTE: This meeting was moved to a virtual setting due to inclement weather.

11/17 Neighborhood Workshop Summary

Special thanks to everyone who joined us for the Historic West Des Moines Neighborhood Workshop! Please click here to view a video of the Workshop with Small Nation held on Wednesday, November 17th, 2021. The evening included an overview of main street case studies and success strategies that showcased how other historic Midwest towns are activating spaces, curating experiences, and celebrating their people, places, and heritage. Notable highlights included:

  • Facade Enhancements
  • Wayfinding Signage
  • Short Term Lodging (Micro-Boutique Hotels / High-End Airbnbs)
  • Co-Working Spaces
  • Restaurants, Brew Pubs, Public Markets, Alfresco Dining
  • Upper Story Living / Lofts
  • Business Partnerships
  • Main Street Gyms
  • Walking Tours
  • And more!

“We had a really good conversation on how to preserve history but also embrace the future.” – Workshop Participant

Group Discussion

Insights varied by group. Below is an overview of the thoughts reported back:

Desired Uses + Considerations

  • Uses that encourage day-to-night activity: Coffee shops, co-working space, entertainment
  • Micro-Retail: Creative use of alleyways and smaller uses on backside of buildings
  • Family friendly businesses / entertainment
  • Soda fountain, bagel shop, toy store, market street concept
  • Temporary pop-ups / identify locations
  • Small boutique hotel
  • Utilize upper stories: Residential, lofts, bed and breakfasts, co-working)
  • Restaurants that reflect ethnic mix / history (soul food, mexican restaurant)
  • Starter Home Community: Build ownership within the neighborhood
  • Support for additional multi-family residential, but parking should be integrated


  • Remain unique, don’t replicate other places
  • Refurbish and refresh historic theme
  • More murals / public art
  • Historic Walking Tours, events that celebrate history
  • Desire for wider sidewalks in commercial district (Enhance ease for families, strollers to navigate given street furniture)
  • Enhance connections, access, wayfinding
  • Pedestrian bridge to connect area south of Railroad
  • More street furniture (seating / parklets / bump-outs)
  • Concern over loss of single family houses, tear downs
  • Review zoning updates to support desired look / feel

Development Types + Geography

  • Retail on 5th; professional service uses on 4th, 6th, side streets
  • More housing on Railroad to the west (5th, 6th, 7th)
  • Expansion of commercial district off 5th to side streets
  • Improve commercial along Railroad Avenue
  • Utilization of area south of Railroad Avenue
  • Concern over height of developments on Railroad Avenue (new developments should not shade / dwarf surroundings / southern exposure)

Information Sharing + Local Support

  • Provide “Welcome Packets” to new residents and merchants
  • Include details on events, incentives, demographics, trash pick-up, etc.
  • Encourage neighborhood investment
  • Begin property owner meetings

What ideas resonate with you?

Click the presentation link below to view the slide deck and share input.