Skip Navigation

News Release

EMC Downtown Park Opens June 1 in Downtown Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa – (June 1, 2023) - EMC Downtown Park will be open for play June 1, providing a new recreation space in the heart of downtown Des Moines.

EMC Downtown Park represents a partnership between Des Moines Parks and Recreation and EMC Insurance Companies to fill a public space gap in the Des Moines Parks system and helps advance the City in its mission to provide a park within a 10-minute walk of every Des Moines resident. This new park will serve over 2,400 residents living downtown within a 10-minute walk of this park. 

“We can’t wait to see kids, families and residents using EMC Downtown Park,” Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Ben Page said. “There’s been a need for a neighborhood downtown park for a long time, and this project creates a really great public space for workers, residents and visitors to get outside in the midst of downtown.”

The site for EMC Downtown Park, at 701 Walnut St., has been inaccessible and vacant since the March 2014 fire that tore through the former site of the Younkers building. EMC, who acquired the property in 2018, built the park and will retain ownership of the land while the Parks and Recreation Department will maintain it. 

“It’s been a joy to see this project come to fruition,” EMC President and CEO Scott Jean said. “EMC is excited to be able to offer this great new attraction to the city. We think the park is a placemaking project that will contribute to downtown vibrancy and the health and wellbeing of downtown workers and residents.”

Though the City of Des Moines’ 41 tennis courts are all equipped with pickleball lines, EMC Downtown Park includes the City of Des Moines’ first dedicated pickleball court providing a unique, free location to play the rapidly growing sport.  

Other park features will include:

  • Recreation options: Half-court basketball, the City’s first pickleball court, bags court, ping pong table and chess/checkers/backgammon tables
  • Play areas: Cushioned play area with interactive sculptural elements for climbing
  • Seating: Swings, benches, a seat wall and a naturalized seating area
  • Environmental features: Nearly 30 different species of plants, including trees, flowers and ornamental grasses, that will bloom from March to August
  • Pet area: Downtown's first public pet-relief area  

Also on June 1, Walnut Street will open to traffic and the new stairs from the rebuilt section of skywalk down to the park will open.

A digital media kit, including photos, renderings, project fact sheet and time-lapse video of the project's building process, are available at:

Al Setka

Chief Communications Officer, City Manager’s Office

(515) 283-4057

Sarah Buckley, APR

AVP–Corporate Communications, EMC Insurance Companies

(515) 345-4588

About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines and our 17 departments serve more than 214,000 residents and 52 neighborhood associations. Des Moines is a leader in sustainability and provides its residents with vibrant neighborhoods, an alive and active downtown, and abundant leisure opportunities. Des Moines continuously improves neighborhoods, public safety and quality of life by offering exceptional city services and reliable infrastructure while fostering an involved and compassionate community for all who visit and live in Des Moines. Visit DSM.cityFacebook and Twitter for more information.

About EMC Insurance Companies

EMC Insurance Companies has approximately 2,200 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 commercial property/casualty lines, bonds and life insurance products and services throughout the United States. EMCC is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit

Sarah Buckley, Assistant Vice President – Community Involvement
Media Contact
EMC Insurance Companies Sarah Buckley, APR
Assistant Vice President – Community Involvement

Community Focus

Learn how EMC contributes to our communities.

group of smiling people