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News Release

EMC Announces Plans for Park at Former Younkers Site in Downtown Des Moines – Proposed Plans Demonstrate EMC's Ongoing Commitment to Downtown

DES MOINES, Iowa (July 16, 2021)—EMC Insurance Companies (EMC) today announced plans for a new park at 701 Walnut Street in downtown Des Moines, the site of the former Younkers department store.

“EMC is committed to downtown and is excited to offer this park as a new amenity to the city,” said Scott Jean, EMC President and CEO. “We think the park will be a great place for Des Moines residents, our EMC team members, and downtown dwellers, workers and visitors to take a break, meet friends, exercise and enjoy the outdoors.”

The proposed plan for the “pocket” park, or small urban open space, features sports courts, seating, raised flower beds and public art. EMC will be working with the city over the coming months to refine the plans.

“This is a significant announcement by EMC, and I commend them for their decision to create a park in the heart of downtown,” said Mayor Frank Cownie. “For years, we sought opportunities to develop such a park for our downtown residents and visitors, and this collaborative effort by EMC and the City will fill that much needed void in our community.”

The project also involves the repair and replacement of sections of the skywalk near the site, and the addition of a new stair access from the skywalk down to the park.

The park plans must first receive approval from the City of Des Moines and various departments and committees before work can begin. EMC hopes the park will open in late summer 2022, pending all needed approvals.

Site background

EMC acquired the property in May 2018, four years after it was destroyed by fire. The site is adjacent to the company's campus of four other buildings (700 Walnut Street, 717 Mulberry Street, 219 8th Street and the Hub Tower). EMC has more than 1,200 team members in Iowa.

EMC determined it has no near-term needs for additional office space, so it decided to improve the site and provide a green space to the community for the foreseeable future. Through an agreement with the city, EMC will allow the land to be used as a park for at least 10 years.

Next steps

Work has already begun on the section of skywalk on the north side of EMC's building at 700 Walnut Street, across from the park site. Cranes will be brought in this weekend to remove the damaged section of skywalk, and the opening will be replaced with windows.

Also yet this year, work will be done to prep the 701 Walnut site and fill in the old building foundation. This should allow Walnut Street to reopen to through traffic in fall 2021.

In spring 2022, work will tentatively begin on the park, new skywalk sections and new stairwell. The park is scheduled to be complete in late summer 2022, again pending approvals.

About EMC Insurance Companies

EMC Insurance Companies has more than 2,400 employees and is among the top 60 property and casualty insurance organizations in the country based on net written premium. Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMCC) was organized in 1911 to write workers’ compensation protection in Iowa. Today, operating under the trade name EMC Insurance Companies, the company provides property and casualty insurance products and services throughout the United States and writes reinsurance contracts worldwide. EMCC is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit emcins.com.

Sarah Buckley
Media Contact
EMC Insurance Companies
Sarah Buckley, APR

Assistant Vice President – Community Involvement
515-345-4588

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