Des Moines-based convenience store company Krause Group has proposed a professional stadium on the former home of Dico, a Superfund site in downtown Des Moines that is awaiting redevelopment.
“Krause Group and Iowa Soccer Development Foundation, Inc. would like to partner with the City of Des Moines to redevelop this 43-acre site, centered around a soccer-specific stadium for the planned acquisition of a USL Championship soccer franchise,” Gerard Haberman, president of Krause Group Real Estate, wrote in a letter to the Des Moines City Council. Krause Group runs the Kum & Go convenience store chain and the Des Moines Menace soccer team and is headquartered in downtown Des Moines.
“Our intent is to develop this site and the surrounding district to include various uses designed to improve the experience on the Raccoon River and activate a portion of Des Moines that is primed for an economic boom. This development will continue the grand vision the city has established by unlocking the riverfront and creating space where the community can engage with nature in an urban setting,” Haberman added.
Krause envisions a district for sports events, concerts and street festivals. If the proposal is approved, construction could begin late next year. The development would connect to Krause Group’s planned office space, retail and housing construction to the east of the Dico site.
“This infrastructure is designed to expand urban density into this part of downtown thereby growing the population and increasing opportunities for employment, recreation, and community engagement,” Haberman wrote. The letter did not propose public funding for the project, though company officials had discussed some in past proposals in the area.
“We look forward to investing in this vision and activating an area of downtown that has been decaying and unusable for the past 25 years,” Haberman wrote in his letter to the city.
The Des Moines City Council is expected to formally receive the letter Monday. The letter doesn’t say how long the stadium would take to build, but notes the surrounding entertainment district would be completed in stages in 2023 and 2024.
Deputy City Manager Matt Anderson said the city likes the idea of a stadium on the site. That part of the development would likely be tax-exempt, but would clear more of Krause’s nearby property for hotels, offices, and other taxed facilities. It’s possible the city will allow Krause to pay for the stadium in part with taxes from other developments in the area, a technique known as tax-increment financing, Anderson added.
Anderson said the city has not received other proposals for the site. If it isn’t developed, the city would be faced with paving the site to contain contamination, with some areas left for ponds.
The city would most likely lease the land to Krause, which would have to finance the stadium. It is likely Krause will ask for public assistance, but city officials haven’t had those discussions with the developers yet, Anderson said.
Anderson said the stadium would most likely stage concerts, rugby matches, and other events, and would have surrounding areas open for festivals. “It has a big impact on the city. Soccer is a rapidly growing sport. It just has a wide appeal to people of all ages,” he added.
The development would also tie into planned whitewater courses on the nearby Raccoon River, Anderson said. “It’s an asset to the entire community,” Anderson said of Krause’s proposal.
City officials recently announced a proposed court agreement in which the owners of the site will turn it over to the city in perhaps six months. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would help the city clean up the former manufacturing site, using settlement money from Titan Tire and Dico, and would set limits on the use of the site.
That deal still must be approved by a federal judge before the land is turned over to the city, which has looked into building a new police station on the site. City Manager Scott Sanders recently brushed off a question about what will be built at Dico, partly because EPA must approve whatever goes there due to the health risks even after a partial cleanup. Housing is out. Developers won’t be able to dig much, save for a few footings, city officials have said.
The site has been heavily polluted with solvents, pesticides and other chemicals for decades.
Krause has wanted to bring a team from the higher-level USL Championship league to Des Moines. A subsidiary of Krause Group bought land just east of Dico for a combined $10.5 million for the stadium with up to 8,000 seats and office and commercial developments, the Des Moines Register reported in December. At the time, Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy called Krause’s request for $30 million in county money for the $60 million proposed stadium “a tough sell.”
Now, the stadium is proposed at the Dico site, with unspecified future developments, if approved.
At one time, company Krause Group CEO Kyle Krause had discussed a joint Menace-Des Moines public schools stadium on the Dico site, but the school district now plans a joint stadium with Drake University at Drake.
The latest proposal will be a slow-motion debate. The Des Moines City Council is expected to receive and file the letter Monday, with the city manager entering negotiations with Krause.
Krause doesn’t expect to see the zoning authorities until spring, and a permit application would come in October 2021.