Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Civic Skinny

A Des Moines house sells for $1.4 million. Register raises prices. Candidates report.


A home on Lincoln Place Drive in Des Moines sold for $1.4 million the other day, the highest price for a house in the Des Moines city limits in more than a year and a half. It was only the fourth million-dollar-plus residential sale in the city limits in the last seven years.

The house, at 3550 Lincoln Place Drive, was sold by Sara Ghrist to Richard Cohan Jr. It has 5,808 square feet, four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, and three fireplaces. It’s on more than five acres of ground — highly unusual for a home in the city limits — and includes an outdoor pool and a 900-square-foot stable.

Sara Ghrist had purchased the home in 2008 for $960,000 from the Joan Ghrist Trust.

In April, too, a Bisignano family corporation sold the six-story parking garage at Sixth and Grand to the Liberty Building owners for $900,000. The garage, with 264 parking spaces, was built in 2006 and has been used by the Liberty Building, which is across the street. The Polk County Assessor’s website said the value was $3,190,000. Also last month, Meredith completed the sale of the nearly two-acre plot on 17th, between Ingersoll and Grand, to a Hubbell company that plans to build town houses on it. The price was $1.7 million. And Kum & Go, through its Linden Street Investments company, bought the Subway at 1423 Grand for $1.7 million; that’s part of the plot it’s assembling to build a corporate headquarters downtown. Rich Eychaner bought that building in 1996 for $160,000, sold it in September of 2012 for $607,440 to SK Inc., the Subway operator, who then made more than $1 million in reselling it to Kum & Go just 18 months later.

Kum & Go has not yet closed on the rest of the plot, which includes seven parcels owned by neighboring Wellmark and three parcels owned by the Buchanan family, which owns Scotty’s Body Shop on Linden and the old post office substation on Grand. …


You can subscribe to the Sunday Register and e-newspaper for $10 a month, but it’s unclear how long they’ll let you keep paying that rate. The subscription form on the website makes no guarantees. But the answer seems to be: probably not long. A Cityview reader who had been paying $13 a month just got a seven-paragraph letter telling him how great the paper is — “timely news information,” “valuable insights,” “top-notch coverage,” and the like.

Then, the fourth paragraph says the paper “will be adjusting our pricing.” The new rate: $17.80 a month. That’s an increase of 78 percent from the $10 offer, an increase of 37 percent from the guy’s current rate. The Register, with its “insightful coverage,” seems to have missed this story. …

The first-quarter money-raising reports have been filed with the Federal Election Commission by congressional candidates. Here’s where things stand in the Third District, which runs across southern Iowa from Des Moines to Council Bluffs.

Staci Appel, the only Democratic candidate, has raised $763,157 since last July 1 and had $470,416 cash on hand on March 31. The vast majority of the money she has raised — $622,652 — has come from individuals. As with the other Iowa candidates, the names of individual contributors in the latest quarter have not yet been posted.

If you rank the Republican contenders by cash on hand, Monte Shaw heads the list. As of March 31, he had $168,446 in the bank. He raised $203,937 in the quarter — about three-fourths of that from individuals — and spent just $35,491. Shaw is executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Second in cash on hand is Matt Schultz, the current Secretary of State. He has raised $170,949 since the beginning of the year and had $136,645 on hand at the end of the quarter. All but $12,373 of his money has come from individuals.

Third is David Young, the former chief of staff for Sen. Chuck Grassley, who reported $132,846 in the bank. Young leads the field in money spent, having laid out $342,725 in the past year. Presumably, that includes money spent when he was seeking the Republican Senatorial nomination, a quest he abandoned in favoring of running for Congress. He also reported having $70,755 in debts as of March 31, including $50,000 he lent himself on Dec.31.

Fourth is Bob Cramer, the engineer and contractor, who had $78,736 cash at the end of the quarter. He raised $212,653 in the quarter — including a $45,000 loan — and spent $133,916.

Fifth is Brad Zaun of Urbandale, a state senator who won the Republican nomination for the Congressional seat four years ago but got handily defeated by Leonard Boswell. Boswell lost the seat two years ago to fellow incumbent Tom Latham, who now is retiring. Zaun, who got in the race early and who some think is the current leader, has raised just $56,746 in the past 15 months, according to the FEC filing, and has spent just $10,203, leaving him with cash on hand of $46,543.

Joe Grandanette, who has a yard sign or two in the district, has reported no receipts or expenditures to the Federal Election Commission.

Two years ago, Latham raised $3.4 million in his winning run, and Boswell raised $1.7 million. Appel and the ultimate Republican nominee probably will have to raise at least $2 million each to mount an aggressive campaign, politicians say. The primary is June 3, and a person must win at least 35 percent of the vote in that election to get the nomination. Otherwise, the selection is left up to the Republican convention, where the ultra-conservative Shaw might have the best chance. …

Job watch: Iowa’s nonfarm employment was 1,522,500 for March, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. That’s up 4,100 jobs from a month earlier and 20,900 jobs from a year ago — and about 35,000 from when Terry Branstad took office more than three years ago. The problem: He promised to create 200,000 jobs in five years. So: 39 months done, 35,000 jobs up. And: 21 months to go, 165,000 jobs short. …

Cityview joins those mourning the death of The Des Moines Register’s Randy Brubaker, a fine editor and a lovely person. CV



Phil Dorweiler, a retired Des Moines lawyer, sent a few friends an email the other day. This is it:

“I have good news for you. The first 87 years of your life are the hardest. The remaining years are just a succession of birthday parties.

“Once you reach 88 years old, everyone wants to carry your baggage and help you up the stairs. If you forget your name or anybody else’s name, or an appointment or your phone number, or promise to be in three different places at the same time, or can’t remember how many grandchildren you have…you only need to explain that you are 88 years old.

“Being 88 is a lot better than being 70 and just retired. At 70, people are mad at you — for everything. At 88, you have a perfect excuse no matter what you do. If you act foolishly, they say it’s your second childhood, and everybody is looking for symptoms of softening of your brain tissues.

“Being 70 is no fun at all. At that age, people expect you to retire to a condo in Florida or Arizona, and complain about your arthritis — they used to call it lumbago….If you survive life until you are 88, everyone is surprised that you are still alive. They start to treat you with respect just for having lived so long. Some people seem surprised that you can still walk, or drive a car, and even talk sensibly.

“So please friends and family, try to make it to 88. It’s the best time of life. People forgive you for anything. I think life does really begin at 88.

“I will report further on life at my 100th birthday party.” CV

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