Four-star Hilton Des Moines Downtown opens for business in Iowa

Weitz delivers 330-room Hilton hotel ahead of schedule for immediate use

The Weitz Company turned over the 330-room Hilton Des Moines Downtown to Polk County on Wednesday, ending Des Moines’ 10-plus-year wait for a new convention center hotel.

The milestone was celebrated with a public ribbon cutting early in the day followed by a grand opening event in the evening.

“We are immensely proud to bring this much anticipated facility to the Des Moines community,” said Mike Tousley, executive vice president and general manager of The Weitz Company. “It’s an impressive hotel with first-class features and amenities. Our project team and trade partners need to be commended for ushering this project to reality.”

Hilton Des Moines Downtown features windows that are arranged in a binary pattern to resemble barcodes, custom-designed, circuit board-inspired carpets and light fixtures that playfully mimic the appearance of wiring. The tech-centric hotel offers digital check-in, USB ports throughout its lobby and a tech lounge with complimentary computers and internet. As a nod to the city’s agricultural roots, the precast panels on the side of the hotel were inspired by wheat, and the windows and outside façade by corn and soybean rows. The overall aesthetic pulls colors from its agricultural surroundings. The property is the only hotel in downtown Des Moines that features natural light in every meeting room. Each space pulls through the tech-centric theme of the hotel, featuring technology including touch-screen navigation signage, smart window lighting and Click Share technology in boardrooms.

In early 2015, a pivotal meeting between The Weitz Company, Polk County, and City of Des Moines produced the framework for a uniquely innovative financial solution that would send the $101 million project on its rightful path.

A public-private partnership was formed. Weitz would lease the land and borrow funds to serve as the developer as well as the design-builder. Polk County and the City of Des Moines established the non-profit Iowa Events Center Hotel Corp. to create a lease-purchase agreement for the hotel property after construction completed. Hilton Hotels & Resorts became the final piece of the puzzle when selected to manage and operate the four-star facility.

Originally planned for completion on March 31, delivering the new Hilton Des Moines Downtown 10 days ahead of schedule. Weitz utilized extreme amount of prefabrication to build the 322,000-square-foot facility.

Sparked by the idea of prefabricating 300 of the 330 bathrooms, Weitz implemented a purpose-built approach to save time, reduce construction waste and improve safety and quality. This created a series of modular build strategies that local subcontractors such as The Waldinger Corporation and Baker Electric embraced to complement the bathrooms, which were manufactured by Pivotek at an off-site facility in West Chester, Ohio.

“It boiled down to creating a Lean workflow that would positively shape the construction experience for project stakeholders,” said The Weitz Company Project Manager Ben Bunge. “There were 12 modular building components on this project, but it all revolved around the prefabricated bathrooms. They were the focal point of the entire strategy because they represented the path most integrated and critical to the project’s tower schedule.”

“Hilton Des Moines Downtown will attract even more people and events to central Iowa,” said Greg Edwards, President & CEO, Catch Des Moines. “The fact that the hotel is connected and right next door to the Iowa Events Center is a game changer for us in luring new conventions, sporting events and trade shows to the metro. One of the most powerful elements of success in a community is positive momentum—prior to opening the doors of the hotel, the Catch Des Moines team has already booked over 23 new conventions, conferences and sporting events. These events will have an economic impact of nearly $73 million ($72,942,217).”

Bunge tracked the impact the modular build components had on the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. The more compelling outcomes: Diverting 15 tons of trash from the jobsite to create safer and cleaner working conditions, reducing labor hours to construct and install the prefabricated bathrooms by 11 percent, and eliminating 17 weeks of construction waste from the project schedule by installing the 300 prefabricated bathrooms in just three weeks.

The Weitz Company turned over the building to Hilton.

“Our goal since starting construction two years ago was aimed at ensuring the hotel’s doors could be opened to guests as early as possible,” Tousley said. “After waiting more than a decade, Polk County and Des Moines deserved to experience this moment sooner rather than later.”

The hotel will also be home to Park Street Kitchen, a modern restaurant featuring dishes created with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients and Des Moines’ only outdoor, patio fireplace. The restaurant will be led by Chef Nick Marino, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who joins the team from his previous position at Hilton’s acclaimed Waldorf Astoria Chicago.

Source: The Witz Company/Hilton Hotels & Resorts