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'Center @ Sixth' project aimed to revitalize 6th Avenue Corridor

The 30,000 square-foot area will house restaurants, apartments and other shops.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Those driving along Jefferson and 6th Avenues in Des Moines probably don't notice the nearly empty grassy lot taking up space.

But for MarKaus, it's a canvas waiting for its first drop of paint. 

"It's a living work of art. There's music playing," MarKaus mused. 

Among his many titles, artist, rapper, entrepreneur, the Des Moines resident is now a developer who is staking his claim in the 6th Avenue Corridor.

The project that'll revitalize the grassy lot at 1714 6th Ave. is called "Center @ Sixth," and MarKaus hopes it'll turn into one of the city's hotspots by highlighting Black- and brown-owned businesses. 

"From an idea standpoint, this is something I've always dreamed about," MarKaus told Local 5's Jon Diaz. "This is a curated experience."

The 30,000 square-foot area will house restaurants, apartments and other shops. It'll even be home to MarKaus's bottling facility for his whiskey line. 

"I envision this being the home, the heart, the soul of the city. Where the best food is, the best drinks are, the best jobs are, the best departments, the best experience, the best guest speakers, the best art," MarKaus said. "This is that space." 

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MarKaus said this development will help the local economy flourish by creating jobs. 

"So the 15-year-old that lives around the corner that goes to North [High School] can get a job within where he lives, so that the college student that has an engineering degree can come home and come work at a bottling facility," MarKaus said. 

BreAnn By, a Des Moines north side local and executive director of a nonprofit supporting the project, said the organization has been laying the groundwork for the project. 

"We acquired the property. And we really saw this, this piece of land as a space where we could bring back some of that mixed-use vibrancy," By said. 

MarKaus echoed By's statement with a promise about what people will think of the area in the future. 

"When they talk about the state of Iowa they're gonna be like, 'Yo, Center Six!'"

The project is set to be completed in 2022.