Des Moines Haiku

05 Dec 2008

Driving home from work tonight, I thought of a few Des Moines haiku.

Black Friday shoppers
Wait in the cold for Great Deals
Jordan Creek Mall hell

Snow falls: I shovel
A clean front walk but that night
Another snowfall

Suddenly it's cool
Yups, families, and empty nests
East Village rising

You want to eat at
The new Cheesecake Factory?
Thirty bucks for crap

The Iowa chapter of the American Planning Association recently honored West Des Moines for its publication of a "pattern book". Pattern Books are locally specific guidebooks detailing appropriate interventions in existing neighborhoods (both renovation and new construction). This particular book is focused on the older areas of West Des Moines. Examples used in the book are the Cape Cod, Ranch, and Split Level home.

The 45-page book is available for free on the West Des Moines web site.

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General Growth Stock Price PlummetsGeneral Growth Stock Price PlummetsReal estate investment giant General Growth stock plummeted to around $0.35 per share this morning on news that the company may declare bankruptcy. General Growth developed and owns the Jordan Creek Town Center "retail resort" in West Des Moines.

Over the next few years, almost $4 billion in debt from recent property acquisition comes due, but current income from their real estate holdings doesn't cover the payments. General Growth acquired Rouse Company in 2004 for $7.2 billion, mostly financed through short-term debt instruments. Defaulting on one debt would likely cause other creditors to call their loans due, precipitating a catastrophic avalanche of defaults.

General Growth officials blame the "credit crunch" for the company's current financial woes. That is, they cannot find people to loan them money to cover their existing loans. Now that there is blood in the water, it becomes even more unlikely that anyone will loan them money - a self-fulfilling prophesy.

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From Obama transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett (via the Washington Post), plans are underway to establish a White House Office of Urban Policy in order to better coordinate federal efforts to help America's cities.

I have blogged about this before. I am excited that president-elect Barack Obama has such a clear understanding of urban issues and a demonstrated intent to deal with them in a comprehensive and straightforward manner.

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It is my hope that Barack Obama is elected to the office of President of the United States. It appears at this time to be the likely result. As the next President, Obama will inherit a stinking putrid mess:

  • Our military is stretched to the breaking point prosecuting two wars without definable "win" goals.
  • Years of deregulation have created a financial system best described as a foggy swamp. Nobody knows which direction the exit is located.
  • Millions of Americans are without health insurance, many of them children. Those that have health insurance see their premiums rise by double-digits every year.
  • Many of our cities struggle to provide basic services, education, police, and fire protection to increasingly poor populations.
  • Increasing economic and cultural segregation have lead to a polarized country, half "other" and the other half consumed by fear of "other" - terrorists, Muslims, Black people, Mexicans, welfare cheats, poor people, anti-Semites, socialists, Marxists, Arabs, Indians, community organizers...

Unfortunately, in his desire to win, John McCain is drawing on a politics of division to make his case. He has passed the point of "Country First" and proceed on to a new strategy of "Win at All Costs".

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29 Oct 2008

With five days to go, some dumbass stole our yard sign (real cool, Republicans, that's pretty mature) but they can't break our spirit.

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I stay on top of a lot of progressive architecture blogs. For my money (time), Progressive Reactionary is one of the best. The most recent blog post over there says in much better words than I could why Barack Obama is the right option for people who are interested in urbanism and urban revitalization.

A key quote:

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The Des Moines Register has endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. No doubt, those predisposed to believing that the media are uniformly "librul", will play down the steady drip-drip of high profile endorsements falling to Obama.

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Vote for Obama - Iraq

19 Oct 2008

Every election is important, from school board to county supervisor, from local ballot initiatives to the quadrennial circus of the presidential election. This one is no exception.

On each of the most pressing issues facing this country today, there is a clear choice between candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

This is the first in a series of blog posts detailing why Barack Obama is the candidate best suited to lead this country through the next four years. They are guaranteed to be tumultuous. It will require a steady, thoughtful, and charismatic leader like Barack Obama to navigate us through these treacherous waters.

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Victorian Home in Danger of Demolition: This home is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list and may be demolished if deficiencies are not corrected in a timely manner.Victorian Home in Danger of Demolition: This home is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list and may be demolished if deficiencies are not corrected in a timely manner.A charred Sherman Hill mansion and a former one-room schoolhouse have been named among “Des Moines Seven Most Endangered Buildings” by the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. Over the period of about a month, the Club received nominations from the public for buildings, homes, and other structures within the City of Des Moines in danger of demolition or neglect. The resulting list will help raise awareness of endangered structures in Des Moines and promote opportunities for rehabilitating them.

In no particular order, the following have been selected as “Des Moines Seven Most Endangered Buildings”. Visit for more information and photos of the buildings.

  • 692 17th Street, Sherman Hill neighborhood.
  • East Woodlawn School, 2930 Euclid Avenue.
  • 1910 Officer’s Quarters, Fort Des Moines.
  • Kingsway Cathedral Church, 901 19th Street.
  • Roadside Settlement House, 620 Scott Avenue.
  • Gas Station, 203 E. Grand.
  • 1021 26th Street.

The last one on this list is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list. Being listed as a public nuisance is technically a legal action, and subjects the owner to fines if the deficiencies are not corrected. Ultimately, if the items listed on the public nuisance action are not remedied, the structure may be demolished by the City.

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