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EMC Insurance, City of Des Moines partnering on new park at former Younkers site

The park is planned for the Walnut Street lot where the Younker Brothers Department Store was located before it burned down in 2014.

DES MOINES, Iowa — EMC Insurance and the City of Des Moines have announced plans for a new "pocket park" at the site where the Younkers Brothers Department Store burned down in 2014.

The proposal includes a pickleball court, half-size basketball court, a seating area and an innovative playground.

"One of our goals of our mayor and our Parks and Recreation board is to have a park within a 10-minute walk of all residents," Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Ben Page said. "So this is really going to fill a void that we don't have today."

The plan is still pending approval by city council, but Page said the reception was positive at the first public meeting Wednesday night.

If approved, EMC will continue to own the site and build the park, but the city will maintain it.

Workers are already starting to fill in the hole, and the next step will be getting a full proposal to city council. Page said he expects that to happen before the end of the year. 

If approved, the park could open by the end of summer 2022.

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