I drove to Des Moines Saturday afternoon to meet up with some of the people from the AbsoluteDSM website and forums. The people who run the site aren't secretive about their identities, and many of us enjoyed the chance to put faces with screennames. One of the things that was interesting to me was the variety of people who attended. There was a group of people who are professionally involved in development, such as a city planner type person, real estate developers, property owners/rehabbers. There was also a number of people such as myself that don't work in the field, but who take an active interest in it. College students, a financial planner, an elementary school teacher, me, etc. Everyone there was interested in making their hometown, and home state, a better place to live.
We started off with a tour of some projects in the Drake area being done by one of the forum members and his wife. I think everyone there was extremely impressed with what they'd been able to accomplish. I heard someone say that they had renovated 10 homes in that neighborhood, and even moved a house from the Drake campus to an empty lot and rehabbed it. They also were planning to move 2 more houses in November to make way for a new Drake building. They'd built an attractive townhouse-style apartment building, a brick commercial/residential building that fit the surrounding block perfectly, and are currently in the process of renovating a historic dairy. More pictures of the tour, taken by someone with a real camera, can be found here.
After leaving the Drake neighborhood, which is known as Dogtown, we went to Raccoon River Brewery in downtown Des Moines. I drove past the Chipperfield library on the way, and its quite a sight lit up at night. The copper skin that's mostly opaque during the day becomes almost completely clear at night with the building's lights on. Even at 9:30pm on a Saturday, a crew was working to take down an old parking garage with a wrecking ball, but they knocked it off for the night around 10pm. Des Moines has really had a surge in downtown residential development, and more projects are still underway. Hopefully downtown Davenport can enjoy similar success over the next decade or two.