DMU completes purchase of West Des Moines property for new campus

DMU Board Chair Michael Witte and University President Angela Walker Franklin - seated, fourth and third from right, respectively - are joined by DMU trustees, members of the McKinney family and West Des Moines leaders for the signing of the purchase of property for a new campus.
DMU Board Chair Michael Witte and University President Angela Walker Franklin – seated, fourth and third from right, respectively – are joined by DMU trustees and members of the McKinney family for the signing of the purchase of property for a new campus.

Des Moines University (DMU) announced today that it has closed its transaction to purchase the 88.28 acre parcel in West Des Moines as part of its effort to move the campus and accommodate necessary growth and innovation. The transaction is being funded with University resources.  

The site for the new campus sits on the north side of Grand Avenue, located between South Jordan Creek Parkway and South 88th Street. It is bounded on the north by Booneville Road. DMU purchased the land from W & G McKinney Farms, LC.

“Acquiring this property is the first important milestone toward realizing our vision for the development of a new campus that will ensure DMU remains a national, premier medicine and health sciences university serving the community and the world,” said Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., DMU’s president and CEO. “In April, we began the master planning process that included initial creative discussions with all campus constituents to consider options that can help us advance the future of health care education and offer clinical services that will meet the needs of the region.”

DMU has occupied its current location at 3200 Grand Avenue since moving from Sixth Avenue in 1972. It tentatively plans to move campus operations to the new campus by 2023.   

“The city of West Des Moines is extremely excited to welcome DMU to our community,” said West Des Moines Mayor Steven K. Gaer. “Their move here helps us accelerate our economic development plans that will add exponential value to our city and benefit our residents in many ways. Together with DMACC, Microsoft and other progressive organizations, DMU’s presence will constitute what we are calling the ‘Innovation Corridor’ of West Des Moines.”

President Franklin added, “We are setting the stage for strategic growth and prosperity of the University, and we are taking advantage of the evolutionary trends occurring worldwide in health sciences education and health care delivery. And we are very grateful to have been warmly received by the city of West Des Moines, which has demonstrated eager partnership with us to meet our needs for a successful development process.”

The master planning process was begun in April with representatives of all campus constituents. That planning process is being facilitated by the joint team of local specialty consulting organizations RDG Planning and Design and GTG. DMU’s timeline provides for planning and design to continue through November of this year, and excavation and construction to start in spring 2020.

At the unveiling of a sign for the new campus this morning, President Franklin paid homage to the late Bill Lillis, an attorney and friend of the University.

“It was Bill who introduced us to Wayne McKinney in January and eventually to other members of the family. If Bill were here, I know he would be beaming with pride,” she said. “He was our greatest champion through this entire process, and he was so excited about the prospect of this win-win-win partnership.”

Michael Witte, D.O.’77, chair of the DMU Board of Trustees, also praised the University’s partnership with the city of West Des Moines and thanked its mayor, Steven Gaer.

“Mayor Gaer, we applaud you on leading this community with great vision and commitment to provide residents and businesses an exceptional community with first-rate services,” Dr. Witte said.

West Des Moines Mayor Steven Gaer said DMU’s new campus “will be the envy of the nation in medical education.”

Mayor Gaer said DMU will be part of the area’s “innovation corridor,” which emerged when Microsoft and then Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) located there.

“We couldn’t be more pleased that DMU wants to be part of that,” he said. “It will be the envy of the nation in medical education. We are partners together, and we will be successful together.”