On April 23, 2024, General Manager Ben Anderson, along with local historian/filmmaker Steve Edmiston, shared an exciting walk-through highlighting the ongoing transformation of the historic Des Moines Theater.

Anderson – without needing a hardhat this time (thus avoiding that dreaded “hardhat hair”) – gave an enthusiastic tour of the vibrant new space located in the heart of Des Moines at 22325 Marine View Drive South (map below).

The revitalized, newly-reconstructed theater will feature live music and more in a large auditorium, a cozy coffee shop, a stylish restaurant, and various retail spaces.

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The building’s 16 apartments, some offering stunning views, are already leased and welcoming residents.

This theater is a unique, historic building, first constructed in 1942 and consisting of a large movie theater and six retail storefronts.

Anderson’s team is “determined to maintaining this building’s charm, character and history while at the same time adding 18 residential units above and behind the theater.”

“The building itself will also be an amenity, as we are renovating the existing movie theater into a performing arts center for live music community and private events, all while maintaining its first-run movie license,” according to its website.

“For the better part of a century, the people of Des Moines have come to this building for popcorn and a movie, to buy a record, get a tattoo, buy a cup of coffee, or to have a root canal. It also spent a decade-long, lost weekend as the adult movie theater Secrets in the 1990s.

“It is our mission to maintain the Des Moines Theater’s special relationship with the city as well as entice visitors from other areas by providing unique experiences and top-shelf entertainment.”

Since our last walkthrough on Aug. 8, 2022, several milestones have been achieved:

  • A piano that once was played in the childhood home of Anne & Nancy Wilson of Heart has found a new home at the theater!
  • The beautiful, distinctive neon sign (Anderson’s favorite feature) has been full restored and is being lit up every night.
  • There are many instances of thoughtful, re-used historic materials in the construction.
  • The first business tenant is already operating – a collaboration between ceramics artist Jodi Rockwell and floral designer Iris and Peony.
  • A recording studio is nearly completed.
  • A co-working/podcast studio is currently available for booking (click here for info).
  • A restaurant as well as other retail spaces are ready for lease (click here or email Anderson at benjanim.m.anderson@gmail.com for details).
  • All 16 apartments have been leased and residents are living there.
  • Construction on the main theater space continues.
  • The team is seeking entertainment and funding partners to finalize the theater and manage bookings (email benjanim.m.anderson@gmail.com for details).
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For a glimpse of the progress, check out our latest walkthrough video shot by Scott Schaefer on April 23, 2024:

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Revisit our initial sneak peek from Aug. 8, 2022, when hardhats (and “hardhat hair”) were still required:

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The Des Moines Theater is shaping up to be a fantastic creative community hub, and we can’t wait to see it in its full glory!

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