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Proposed plans for Firehouse No. 1: Art gallery, event space and a speakeasy

A new buyer is reimagining the Des Moines Social Club.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Social Club's transition board has reached an agreement to sell the historic Firehouse No. 1 building. But that doesn't mean the club is gone for good.

Matt Abbott, the principal owner of Abbott Properties, has big plans for the property. He wants to revive the Viaduct Art Gallery, use the first floor for commercial and retail space and convert the second floor into an upscale event venue. 

He also plans to host outdoor concerts in the courtyard and transform the Kum & Go Theater into a "boutique speakeasy concept," according to a press release from the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

“My passion has been repurposing historic buildings to contribute to neighborhoods and to be places of creativity and community,” Abbott said in a press release. “With our expertise in restoring historic buildings and creating community gathering places, we are committed to keeping the integrity and the authenticity of the original building and showcase it, while repurposing the space.”

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The Partnership says the proceeds from the sale will be applied to outstanding debt and also be invested in arts, culture and community in the area.

“While selling the campus was a difficult decision, the sustainability of the historic firehouse and the opportunity to continue to support arts, culture, and community have been our top priorities,” Rob Feeney, Chairman, Firehouse Transition Board, said in a statement. “We are very proud to be hitting these priorities and we are extremely confident in the future of this space as we welcome the Abbott team to Des Moines.”

The sale is contingent upon approval by the Des Moines City Council on Monday.

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