Des Moines was named one of the best cities to live in in 2020 by Livability. It was named of the Top 10 Cities to Live in After a Pandemic by Today. And it was named #2 Safest Place to Live by usnews.com. There’s something here for everyone - the local foodie, the active cyclist, the craft beer aficionado, families with children of all ages, small business owners, and those looking for a more affordable place to work, live, and play.
Catch Des Moines CEO, Greg Edwards, puts it perfectly:
“Des Moines has a proud tradition of investing in the quality of life for residents. As an arts and culture destination in the Midwest, Des Moines is known for accessible public art, world-class performing arts, and festivals almost every weekend. This community highly values cultural experiences and beautiful spaces. You can build the life you want in Des Moines. Ample opportunities and resources exist to help newcomers get settled and integrated into the community. Business and community leaders are readily available and want to see the region and its residents thrive.”
Des Moines is all over the map winning awards for the best place to live, work, and raise a family. But when it comes to exactly where in the city to work, how do you decide? Whether you are new to the Greater Des Moines area or a current resident thinking about finding a new place to work, the location of a business is just as important as the business itself. Nowadays, surrounding amenities, accessibility, walkability, and area liveliness are qualities to consider when deciding where to work. To help make the decision easier, we asked our team to take an unbiased approach (since our office is in the Western Gateway) to identify the different districts around town and identify the top 3 districts to work in. The following are our results!
Tucked away on the east side of the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines, the Historic East Village starts at the river and stretches further east to the beautiful Iowa Capitol building. Described by Buzzfeed as “the closest thing to Brooklyn that Iowa has ever seen,” East Village is a destination for everyone in the Des Moines metro: visitors, Des Moines natives, and even small business owners. Starting in the late 1800s as one of the original commerce areas in the city, the area has flourished over the past 10+ years into one of the most desired districts to work in and start a business. The area features many historic buildings on the Nation Register of Historic Places, award-winning restaurants (Lucca, Alba, Zombie Burger, Peace Tree Brewing), coffee shops (Scenic Route Bakery, Daisy Chain Coffee) boutique shopping (Aimee, Fleet Feet, Porchlight, Raygun, Eden, Kitchen Collage), and much more. Walkable, cool, and full of character, the Historic East Village offers residents, visitors, and businesses alike an experience for all senses!
Located on the western edge of downtown Des Moines as you drive into the heart of the city, Western Gateway is an up-and-coming area for corporations and small businesses alike. Meredith Corporation, Nationwide Insurance, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Krause Group are among some of the biggest corporate names in Des Moines, and they all reside in the Western Gateway. Many of these new, multi-story buildings are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and designed by renowned architects! As the name suggests, this district is marked by the famous Western Gateway Park and the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. In the Spring and Summer months, Western Gateway Park hosts a plethora of events like the Des Moines Arts Festival, 80/35 Music Festival, and the World Food and Music Festival, Latino Heritage Festival, and Celebrasian. This district also boasts some of the city’s best coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants - Horizon Line Coffee, Ritual Café, Exile Brewing, Lua Brewing, Django, Centro, and Proof. Western Gateway is currently a very exciting district for urban development neighborhood revitalization, with CISS’ Mulberry Corridor Master Plan and Krause Holdings’ (Kum & Go) Western Gateway Redevelopment, both currently in the works. Both of these plans will spark significant growth for the district, making it an even more attractive place for people to live and work.
The Avenues of Ingersoll & Grand is a long district stretching from 15th street to 43rd Street and from the Raccoon River to Interstate 235. In 2016, the area received a rebranding to have a more recognizable name and to capture the true spirit of the district, like that of other neighborhoods in Des Moines. The district includes the governor’s residence at Terrace Hill, the historic Salisbury House, and the ever-growing bar and restaurant hub. It encompasses some of the city's most elegant neighborhoods south of Grand, as well as numerous apartment complexes and several middle-class neighborhoods to the north. Over the past 4-5 years, The Avenues has seen an uptick in real estate developers buying up properties, lively restaurants (Harbinger, Lucky Lotus, The Cheese Bar, Manhattan Deli, Bauder’s, Eatery A), and increased nightlife (The Bartender’s Handshake, Zola, Juniper Moon). Currently, The Avenues Board of Directors is working with the Iowa Parks Foundation to create a master plan for urban parks and outdoor recreation spaces. The goal of this Urban Recreation District is to address the parks gap in the city of Des Moines and the need for more connectivity to the downtown area, creating a more accessible and healthier environment through economic development efforts in the area. This district is coming more and more attractive for mid-size and small businesses, as its growth has been exponential over the past 5 years.
There are many other vibrant districts around the Des Moines metro, such as West Glen, Jordan Creek Parkway, Prairie Trail, Drake Park, Beaverdale, Windsor Heights, and many others. All districts have their own set of unique amenities to offer residents and working folks!