DES MOINES, Iowa – November 20, 2012 — The Polk County Board of Supervisors took action today to enter into a letter of intent with Wellmark Inc., for a possible land exchange. The exchange would swap the vacant Wellmark building (former JC Penney’s) for the Polk County Convention Complex (Plex) and allow the Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater Des Moines (YMCA) the opportunity to relocate from the river front to the Plex location.
Polk County has been holding the vacant Plex since the completion of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium Renovation into convention and ballroom space in January, 2012, for use for future courts space or future downtown development. The Des Moines Redevelopment Company expressed interest in a possible land/building exchange between Wellmark, Polk County and the YMCA for the Plex and vacant land west of the Plex owned by Wellmark.
“This transaction is the first step toward establishing a courts campus near the Polk County Courthouse and provides an opportunity to move the YMCA into the downtown core placing their river front property available for redevelopment fitting within the future vision of downtown. This is a perfect example of the private and public sector working together by removing a significant inventory of vacant office space and creating a great opportunity for Polk County and the community”, stated Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair, Angela Connolly.
The Wellmark building is move in ready and will provide the County with the opportunity to move the County Attorney and Clerks records immediately out of leased space with minimal renovations resulting in a cost savings for the County. The move will provide only a slight increase in renovation costs compared to the plan for the courts previously proposed for the Plex.
The letter of intent between Polk County, Wellmark, Inc., and the YMCA provides for the exchange of the vacant Wellmark (former JC Penney’s) building for the Plex with the County paying Wellmark $500,000 as part of the transaction. The letter of intent also authorizes staff to negotiate the terms of the land exchange between the vacant Wellmark Building (former JC Penney) and the Plex. The property exchange transaction is expected to be complete within four to six months.