The City of West Des Moines purchased the former Phenix Elementary School and its entire city block from the West Des Moines Community School District in 2015 with the intention of transferring ownership to Community Housing Initiatives, Inc. (CHI), a non-profit housing developer. This page on the City's website has been created to serve as a resource in providing the public access to comprehensive information regarding the Phenix redevelopment.
Constructed in 1939, the Phenix building was designed by Proudfoot, Rawson, Brooks and Borg, of Des Moines, and constructed by the Weitz Company, also of Des Moines.
The building originally served as a school for the town of Valley Junction. The town changed its name to West Des Moines and today the Phenix building is situated just a block from the Valley Junction downtown area, which features an eclectic variety of dining and retail amenities.
The building continued to serve as an elementary school in the West Des Moines Community School District until the District closed the building at the end of the 2013/14 school year.
For more information about the history of the Phenix building, view the State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa Site Inventory pages.
Phenix Building Floor Plan
View the draft Phenix building floor plan for the apartments.
About Community Housing Initiatives, Inc.
The housing developer for the Phenix redevelopment, CHI, has a lengthy history of developing successful housing projects in Valley Junction, throughout West Des Moines, and across Iowa.
- CHI already operates 107 units of affordable housing in Valley Junction, so they are familiar with the neighborhood. Other CHI properties include 313/329 Lincoln Street and 916 Ashworth Road.
- CHI has a policy of requiring tenant income minimums and maximums that apply to their properties. CHI's minimum income formula is to multiply the cost of rent by 36. For example, a monthly rent of $650 at Phenix would require an annual income of at least $23,400 to qualify.
- All applicants wishing to live at CHI's properties must pass a credit and criminal background check prior to qualification.
- View more information about CHI.
Phenix Redevelopment Timeline
6-30-14: West Des Moines City Council unanimously approves law firm Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., to represent the City and the West Des Moines Community School District in the negotiation and sale of Phenix.
8-13-14: Finance & Administration City Council Subcommittee discusses an application to Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the Phenix redevelopment. Councilmembers Kevin Trevillyan and Russ Trimble supported the application and agreed to place the item on the City Council agenda for full consideration and approval at their August 25th, 2014 meeting.
8-25-14: West Des Moines City Council unanimously approves grant application for Phenix redevelopment.
8-29-14: West Des Moines Community School District Board of Directors approves sale agreement for Phenix building and site to City of West Des Moines.
9-22-14: West Des Moines City Council unanimously approves option agreement to purchase Phenix building and site.
10-28-15: The Phenix site is mentioned numerous times on HistoricWDM.com, the website for the Historic West Des Moines Master Plan.
3-10-16: The Phenix site is revealed as a Historic West Des Moines Master Plan opportunity site and is discussed at length during a public meeting.
3-21-16: West Des Moines City Council unanimously approves Workforce Housing Loan Application for Phenix site.
5-10-16: Phenix discussed as opportunity site during Historic West Des Moines Master Plan public meeting.
7-20-16: A draft of a plan for the Phenix redevelopment is revealed during a Historic West Des Moines Master Plan public meeting.
9-12-16: West Des Moines Planning & Zoning Commission discusses Historic West Des Moines Master Plan, including Phenix site.
9-19-16: West Des Moines City Council discusses Historic West Des Moines Master Plan and Phenix site, votes unanimously to accept the recommendations of the Historic West Des Moines Master Plan.
10-31-16: West Des Moines City Council votes unanimously to accept Workforce Housing Loan agreement with Iowa Finance Authority for the Phenix property.
1-9-17: The City Council hears a presentation on 20 possible scenarios for the Phenix building and eliminates all but two of them:
1: Transfer ownership of the building to Community Housing Initiatives, Inc. (CHI), a non-profit housing developer. CHI will rehabilitate the building to include 17 rental housing units.
2: Sell the building to be used as a public or private school.
1-23-17: The City Council votes to go forward with the CHI redevelopment project.
For more information about the Phenix redevelopment view the Phenix Fact Sheet.
Additional Photos of the Phenix Building