Visions for Capitol East

Des Moines’ Capitol East neighborhood is one of three neighborhoods on the east bank of the Des Moines River that have recently gone through the City’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program. It is part of the Viva East Bank! neighborhood coalition along with the Capitol Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Park neighborhoods. This report articulates spatial strategies and options for Capitol East based on goals and priorities from the 2014 Capitol East Neighborhood Charter Plan Update, prepared by students and faculty from the Iowa State University Community and Regional Planning Department in cooperation with the Capitol East Neighborhood Association and the City of Des Moines.

Historical documents show that Capitol East was originally part of the Des Moines downtown core, located at the eastern end of a continuous grid terminating in the west with the recently revitalized Western Gateway area. Capitol East today is, however, a spatial island, cut off by Interstate 235 and the Iowa State Capitol Grounds. Strategies presented in this report reconnect Capitol East to the historic and contemporary fabrics of Des Moines, using spatial strategies including nodes, corridors, networks, and blocks to integrate the neighborhood plan priorities of housing, infrastructure, youth, community building, and economic development.

These strategies build on existing assets and reveal hidden opportunities; they provide spatial guidelines for the integration and prioritization of specific spatial projects. During the next phase of work, the CDL will partner with local artists, organizations, and ISU classes to engage specific “catalyst” sites through temporary and permanent installations and designs.

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