February 28, 2022

For all of ICON’s existence, its downtown run has only been hypothetical. While many regional sites already exist and are ready for recreators, the vision for the rivers at the heart of Des Moines has yet to be fully realized. With groundbreaking at several locations on the horizon and an expedited timeline for another key site, the downtown run is beginning to take shape in a tangible way.

BUILD Grant Sites: Prospect Park, Birdland Marina, Scott Avenue and Harriet Street

On February 1, the BUILD Grant projects were posted for consideration on the Iowa Department of Transportation website. Two weeks later, a pre-bid meeting was held for potential contractors to ask questions and learn more about the project. In total, there were more than 50 attendees, about half representing potential candidates. On March 29, a special letting will be held with a public hearing taking place on April 21. At this point, a contract will be awarded for the BUILD Grant projects. In the meantime, preparation, including tree clearing, is being done at the future BUILD Grant site locations. Construction for Prospect Park, Birdland Marina, Scott Avenue and Harriet Street will be done by 2024 with groundbreaking happening for the Scott Avenue site taking place later this year.

Fleur Drive

In January, ICON received a $15 million grant from the Iowa Water Infrastructure Fund. These dollars have been allocated to the Fleur Drive site, allowing plans to move forward earlier than originally anticipated. Construction for this site will be completed by 2026 in compliance with the grant requirements. Because of this shift in the downtown run strategy, ICON is re-engaging its business consultant to develop a plan that activates the Raccoon River including West Des Moines, Water Works Park and Fleur Drive developments.

Center Street

In tandem with pre-design work for the Fleur Drive site, ICON will be working with its partners on concepting for Center Street. While priority has shifted to Fleur Drive, preparation is continuing for Center Street so that when funding is secured, construction can move forward as planned. The build-out timeline for Center Street is 6-8 years, with completion resulting in the self-sustaining business model projected for ICON and additional activities for users including surfing and whitewater rafting.

With more than 80 improvements across 150 miles of waterways, ICON is truly about connection. These changes to the downtown run will not only transform the landscape of the city, but will ultimately unlock greater opportunities for users throughout our region.

About the Author: Maggie McClelland is the Director of ICON Water Trails. She has overseen the project since January of 2020 and offers more than six years of experience in managing projects, cultivating relationships and directing collaboration across multiple organizations.