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Civic Skinny

Rick Clark to resign as city manager


Des Moines City Manager Rick Clark will retire later this year and move to the Cleveland area, where his wife, Mary Grace Herrington, has taken a job in public broadcasting. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Clark, who was born in Cleveland.

Clark has spent almost his entire career with the city of Des Moines, joining the city’s planning department in 1973, three years after graduating from Cornell College. He has a master’s degree from Iowa State. He was named deputy city manager in 1985 and has been city manager since early 2006. He has been instrumental in the spectacular renewal of downtown Des Moines.

Herrington, 49, was fired earlier this year after four years as head of Iowa Public Radio. The then-board, led by former Des Moines librarian Kay Runge, turned against her and fired her in a closed meeting that Polk County District Court found “did not comply with the Iowa Open Meetings law.” As a result, Runge resigned and the board agreed to abide by the law. In a separate lawsuit, Herrington received a $197,000 settlement.

On Feb. 1, Herrington becomes chief development officer for Ideastream, which runs two public radio stations and a public-television station in Cleveland as well as other public media. The organization had revenue of more than $26 million in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2012. …

Maybe it wasn’t foul-ups at UPS and FedEx that caused your Christmas package to be late. Maybe it was Santa.

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

Consider this Christmas Day tweet from Congressman Steve King:

“From Oslo, Merry Christmas season to my Scandinavian friends. ‘Enjoyed’ a meal of lutefisk, reindeer, & lefse.” …

The Lutheran Church of Hope — the megachurch in West Des Moines — has bought the former Crescent Chevrolet used-car lot on Ingersoll from Jensen Family Investment LC and plans to build a church and center there. The price for the 1.128-acre site was $875,000. The latest assessed value is $545,000.

According to the church’s newsletter, the plan is to build “a beautiful and functional new 300-seat Worship Center” for “possible worship services on Saturday, Sunday and even mid-week.” The facility would also include classrooms and meeting rooms — and restrooms “equipped with diaper-changing tables for the newest members of God’s family.”

The church, established in 1994, is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It has branches in Ankeny and Johnston and holds two services on Sundays at Hubbell Elementary School in Des Moines. It has membership of more than 16,000 and average attendance of more than 10,000, according to its annual report. It expects to wrap up a two-year, $13 million fundraising campaign by the middle of this year. …

Sales of condominiums downtown have been brisk this year — more than 80 condos have been sold — but prices are all over the lot. There’s no trend.

A unit in the 4th and Court Condominiums that originally sold for $231,900 in 2008 was sold for $225,000 in 2011 and sold again the other day for $220,000. A unit on the 10th floor of the Liberty Building sold last month for $250,000 — $54,500 less than it sold for in 2010. A large top-floor unit at the Brown-Camp lofts on the Des Moines River sold for $430,000 in August, $76,000 less that it sold for five years earlier. A small, 25th-floor unit at The Plaza on Walnut Street sold in August for $142,500; it sold for $175,000 eight years earlier. And a couple of those brownstones on Grand Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd streets, sold this year for $10,000 to $20,000 less than when they came on the market six or seven years ago.

On the other hand, a large unit in City Lofts, on 10th Street, that sold for $355,480 in 2007 sold this summer for $379,000. A 1,358-square-foot unit on the second floor of Brown Camp sold this fall for $176,600, $4,000 more than the sale price three years earlier and $16,600 more than the unit originally sold for in 1999. A 2,060-square-foot unit on the third floor sold this summer for $380,000, just $5,000 more than it sold for 10 years ago but $50,000 above the original sales price in 1999. And a 1,400-square-foot unit on the 15th floor of the Plaza sold for $235,000 this summer, up $35,000 from the sale price in 1996 and $95,000 higher than it sold for in 1998.

The highest price for a downtown condo was the $517,000 that John and Peggi Taylor paid to Robert and Sheila Goebel for a double unit on the 10th floor of the Plaza. That’s almost twice what the Goebels paid for the units five years ago.

So far this year, 21 units have changed hands at the 28-year-old Plaza on Walnut; 11 units have turned over at Brown Camp, another 11 at Soho Lofts in the East Village, and nine units have been sold both at City Lofts and at Fourth and Court. Four units have been sold at the White Line Lofts on southwest Fifth Street, including two on the eighth floor, which had been empty since the building was converted in 2005. The two units on the top floor — the ninth — apparently remain empty, with a 4,044-square-foot unit currently listed at $808,900 and a slightly smaller one for $796,000.

Meantime, no house in the city limits of Des Moines sold for more than $950,000 during the year, and there were only 14 homes that sold for more than $500,000. Indeed, in the past five years, there have been only two homes in Des Moines that sold for more than $1 million — a house at 519 Foster Drive that sold for $1.1 million in 2012 and one at 10 35th Street that sold for $1,026,000 in 2011. Throughout the county, there have been 19 homes that have sold for $1 million or more in the past five years. …

More data you’re probably not interested in: So far his year, 79 percent of the flights leaving the Des Moines airport have left on time. Of those that left late, the average delay was 69 minutes. Arriving planes arrived on time 76 percent of the time. Of those that arrived late, the average delay was 52 minutes. Nearly 3 percent of the scheduled flights in and out of the city have been canceled this year. And the top five nonstop destinations from Des Moines: Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta and Minneapolis.

Average fares from Des Moines have dropped 7.6 percent in the past year, after adjusting for inflation; the national average at the 100 busiest airports is 3.6 percent. In Des Moines, fares have fallen 31.6 percent since 2000; the national average is 17.8 percent. In Omaha, fares are down 1.7 percent in the past year and 6.9 percent since 2000, according to the United States Department of Transportation. …

Finally, to Rick Adkisson, not Atkinson; to Kathie Obradovich, not Kathy; to Jake Varner, not Warner, and to Neal Smith, not Neil — Happy New Year, and apologies for misspelling your names in the Christmas column two weeks ago. CV

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