DES MOINES, Iowa – With only months left until the scheduled completion of the new Hilton Des Moines Downtown, a buzz is growing in the city. Exterior finishes for the 330-room hotel are now visible and the interior will soon follow after the construction project’s official topping out celebration was held today.
“It’s always a significant milestone when we top out the structure of a project and start diverting manpower inside the building,” said The Weitz Company Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Tousley. “It represents the completion of a critical phase of the overall construction and we like to celebrate it with our employees, customers and business partners as often as possible.”
Gerard D. Neugent, president of the IEC Hotel Corporation Board of Directors, added, “This project’s ceremony has a special meaning because of how long this community has been working to bring this convention hotel to Des Moines, and it is another example of the ability of several public and private partners to collaborate on an important opportunity for our community.”
To commemorate this moment, a beam signing was conducted at the hotel construction site. Joining Weitz and Hilton Hotels at the event were officials from the IEC Hotel Corporation, Polk County Board of Supervisors, City of Des Moines, Catch Des Moines and Greater Des Moines Partnership. For more than 10 years, these stakeholder groups have all shared a vision that will soon be a reality when the hotel opens its doors to its first guests in April 2018.
“This has been our goal since the construction of Wells Fargo Arena in 2004 and, on behalf of the Polk County Board of Supervisors, we are proud to have worked together as a community to make this hotel a reality,” said Supervisor John F. Mauro. “The Iowa Events Center has been a tremendous asset to our community and the new convention hotel will help take this success to a new level.”
Exposure to new event opportunities and an enhanced ability to attract organizations from around the country are already being witnessed. Since July 2016, five new groups have chosen Des Moines as their host city with the Hilton Des Moines Downtown serving as the headquarter hotel of two (Lutheran Congregations in Mission in Christ’s annual gathering in 2018 and Pizza Ranch’s annual summer meeting in 2019). Not to be overlooked either is the return of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2019.
Catch Des Moines tracks the economic impact events will have on the community. The five new groups alone are estimated to generate $12.6 million between 2018 and 2021.
“We are excited to see the Hilton Des Moines Downtown taking shape. It will be another great addition to the many facilities and hotels that Greater Des Moines offers, plus it gives us the much-needed advantage of having a connected hotel to the Iowa Events Center. The ROI had already begun to take shape with new national convention/sports bookings,” said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of Catch Des Moines.
Hotel sales have been successful thus far largely due to the attention given to the interior design of the hotel beyond its lavish amenities and upscale dining options. The furnishings and finishes will all be high-end and the artwork will be unique as well, focusing on Iowa’s technology boom with several pieces created by local artists.
The Weitz Company made it possible for stakeholders and potential customers to gain advanced previews of the final product. By integrating the 3D design models of RDG Planning & Design (architect of record) and DLR Group (design architect) with its 3D construction model, Weitz recreated the building in virtual reality. This has provided quality assurance throughout the build process but it also serves as a sales tool since virtual tours can be given to showcase the hotel’s interior spaces before they are constructed.
“The Hilton Des Moines Downtown convention hotel is a game-changer for Greater Des Moines, elevating our position on the global stage to attract top events,” said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “It is a signature development project for downtown Des Moines.”
The Hilton Des Moines Downtown is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Park Street. The simple, modern exterior materials and composition have been inspired by Iowa’s agrarian landscape and will be enhanced by unique lighting elements. Hotel amenities will include 330 guest rooms; a 10,000-square-foot ballroom with pre-function and outdoor terraces; 4,000 square feet of breakout meeting rooms; a full-service kitchen; restaurant with outdoor seating; lobby with bar; tech lounge; swimming pool; and fitness center.
Positioned within a two-block proximity of Wells Fargo Arena, Hy-Vee Hall and Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, the hotel will be connected to the downtown skywalk system that provides direct access to downtown Des Moines’ restaurant and entertainment options.
“It is exciting to see this big idea nearing the finish line,” said City of Des Moines Economic Development Director Erin Olson-Douglas. “This project is important for bringing new visitors to Des Moines and for the additional redevelopment opportunities it affords the Iowa Events Center area.”