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Planning for the Unknown: Neumann Awarded Edna Griffin Building Project

Monday, January 14, 2019

Neumann Brothers was awarded the historic restoration of the six-story Edna M. Griffin building in downtown Des Moines. The project will consist of converting the building into 35 apartment units with street-level retail spaces and 2nd floor offices.

Griffin Building RenderingProject Manager Rick Trower is currently working with the local development team, led by Tim Rypma, to complete pre-construction planning. They are finalizing the scope of the project, refining the design and working on MEP design-build. 

“There are a lot of unknowns as we head into this project so we have to plan ahead and have a plan B in place and ready to implement if necessary” commented Rick. “The goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.”

The building is named for local civil rights pioneer and human rights activist, Edna Griffin. In 1948, Griffin was refused service at the Katz Drug Store in the building which now bears her name. She sued the drugstore and won the case before the Iowa Supreme Court as an 1884 law prohibited such discrimination in public places in Iowa.

This project includes SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) tax credits and will receive new historic windows and a new MEP system. New hardwood and new historic ceramic tile will be installed that will replicate the original finishes. However, the existing plaster walls and wood trim will be retained throughout the building. In 1984 a cornice original to the building was removed, so the team will also add a new cornice that replicates the original to bring back even more character. 

The 134-year old building has been home to countless offices and restaurants over the years. The revitalization will not only bring charm back to the once vibrant space, it will add more life to our growing and changing downtown landscape. 

*Rendering courtesy of RDG Planning & Design