East Village Blooms 'n' Blues Festival
First Friday in June
Annual event that kicks off summer and celebrates the beautiful landscaping along East Locust Street. Music, food vendors, silent auction. 7-11 p.m. East Locust between E. 4 th & E. 6 th .
Blues Before Sunset
Fridays in June, July & August
Weekly outdoor concert series featuring local blues bands. Held from 5-7 p.m. at the State Historical Building, corner of E. 6 th /E. Locust. Free.
East Village Bike Night
Last Friday in July
Motorcycle enthusiasts from across the state come to the East Village for the annual bike night. Outdoor concert, food vendors, bar specials, t-shirts, and a chance to see some really cool bikes. 7-11 p.m. East Locust/E. 5 th vicinity.
East Village Holiday Promenade
Friday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 17, 2006)
Annual retail open house shopping event offering specials by neighborhood retailers, carolers, festive decorations along E. Locust Street, a wandering Santa and horse & carriage rides around the Capitol. Reggae band Public Property from Iowa City will play at the State Historical Building, 7-9 p.m. Free.
For additional events, please visit:
East Village Des Moines
New York Times
“…A once-dying neighborhood east of the Des Moines River, at the foot of the Iowa State Capitol's golden dome, has recently been reborn as the East Village, sprinkled with stylish restaurants, boutiques, galleries and specialty shops. Do not miss Sticks Gallery (521 East Locust Street, 515-282-0844), which sells one-of-a-kind hand-painted wood furniture (made in Des Moines), and Fusion Furniture (500 East Locust Street, 515-244-2303), which offers rehabbed 1950's metal furniture and early 1900's Chinese wooden antiques. Stop at Gong Fu Tea (414 East Sixth Street, 515-288-3388), a tranquil Asian-inspired teahouse…”
Los Angeles Times
Des Moines' draws: Another Cubs city comes alive on the weekends
“…After shopping the tents, people could troll the shops in the East Village, a few blocks east and over the river. The chic little boutiques have just the right big-city cachet: Smash ("apparel for guys, girls, polar bears and unicorns"), Urban Belly (maternity wear and baby care), Accenti (accessories), Kitchen Collage (kitchen tools and tableware), Sticks (American crafts) and a whole lot more.
East Village occupies old buildings or new buildings with an old look with lofts on the upper floors, but Des Moines has its modern touches, too.…”
Des Moines Register
Coming home to Soho: Carolina transplants express country style in 'clean slate' of East Village loft
Of all the reasons to appreciate loft living in downtown Des Moines, Travis Etchison touches on one that perhaps only a self-described "Southern boy" would mention with such enthusiasm.
"The roads get plowed first down here," he said, or so it seems.
As a native of North Carolina, he has little experience driving in snow and ice.
Etchison and his wife, Stacey, both 34, moved into their two-floor Soho Loft property, 400 E. Locust St., in Des Moines' East Village, as soon as it was completed in August 2005.
Since then, they have converted their 1,380 square feet, in one of downtown Des Moines' newest residential buildings, into a living space punctuated with respectful glances to yesteryear.
Rustic and vintage pieces gathered up in shopping sprees at local antique markets and stores are meant to be "warm and comfortable," Travis Etchison said.
"We wanted vintage personality," he said. "But we didn't want to have antiques in the sense that you couldn't sit on them or touch them.''
Whether in North Carolina or Iowa, downtown space presents occupants with inalterable exterior surroundings but plenty of opportunities to put their own stamp on their interiors.
In some respects, lofts have less rigid interior design parameters than traditional houses, said interior designer Andrea Singbush of Johnston.
"You can pull in a rustic, vintage design mix and definitely coordinate it with contemporary straight lines," said Singbush, who has done work in downtown Des Moines' Mulberry Lofts.
The Soho Lofts are "what they sometimes call soft lofts," Iowa Realty's Jack Price said, explaining that these lofts are in a new structure, built from the ground up.
So, rather than having to contend with the exposed remnants of a building's past life in an open concept layout, the Etchisons had a "clean slate to work with,'' as Travis put it.
Working with the developer, Tony DeAngelo, the Etchisons were also able to partition their space into a more conventional room-by-room arrangement.
Having that feel to their floor plan was essential to the Etchisons.
"We absolutely appreciate the exposed brick and the duct work you see in many lofts, but it wasn't us," he said.
Playing off the traditional concept, they've made an assertive back-to-the-past statement with wall hangings and accent pieces around their living room.
One of the more dominating wall decorations features a collage of framed pages from old magazines.
Not only do the pages pay homage to Des Moines' magazine heritage, they complement other vestiges of yesteryear - such as rustic signage - that are part of the decor.
The Etchisons' cluster of family photographs, many in black and white, might look out of place against a more contemporary backdrop.
But the family photos look perfectly at home in this setting, perched on the top of a small china hutch.
In a way, that hutch is located at the place where the best of two worlds collide for the Etchisons.
Inside they have their traditional living space. But outside, just beyond the hutch, is the loft's 10-foot-by-11-foot balcony, overlooking the urban landscape running up toward the Capitol.
The Etchisons were delighted to find new, upscale downtown lofts on the market when they moved here two years ago from Raleigh.
They had seen that city embrace a new wave of downtown living and experience glowing results.
"I was fortunate I moved to Raleigh in 1996," just as the city's first loft venture was coming on line,'' he said.
"I've been through this evolution, and I can tell you, at the end of 10 years, the product is phenomenal."
With a population of about 340,000, Raleigh has about 146,000 more residents than Des Moines. But the two cities are similar: Both are state capitals with comparatively late-blooming loft scenes.
The nation's first lofts - "usually created from buildings originally designed for commercial rather residential use" - began in New York in the 1950s, according to Dena Mentis Amoruso, who writes for realtytimes.com.
Des Moines' Brown-Camp Lofts, the city's first loft project, opened for a sneak peek to the public in May 1996.
That same year, Raleigh's first loft project was completed, said Roland Gammon, the developer who converted an old North Carolina warehouse into 50 residential units more than a decade ago.
Today, between 2,500 to 2,900 people live in these newer lofts and condos in downtown Raleigh, said Jason Queen of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
"The goal is to have 10,000 people living downtown by 2009," he said.
Already, the influx of residents living in relatively upscale space has brought new energy and vitality to Raleigh, which at the beginning of the 1990s was "a government town where things only happened downtown from 9 to 5," Queen said.
These days, downtown Raleigh has 140 restaurants and bars, he said. He estimated that back in the early '90s there might have been fewer than 50.
If the lofts and condos already on line or projected to come on line in the next few years are occupied, Des Moines will be close to having 10,000 residents living in the downtown area, said Iowa Realty's Price.
Etchison said that from what he's seen, downtown Des Moines may not be moving as quickly as Raleigh, but his new place of residence is definitely moving forward.
"What it's going to take is for the city leadership to continue to push," Etchison said.