Des Moines Development Forum

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By Aulus
Yesterday afternoon,I drove by the lot where The Murillo is going and they were in the midst of breaking up the asphalt on the lot. today, they have just the start of a basement hole. Also, they had The Murillo rotated about an eighth of a turn, counter-clockwise from its original position and had half of High St. blocked off.

The building next to the row house is now missing its entire 2nd story.

Addtionally, there was a row of three or four cement trucks lined up, ready to go at the Stockbridge construction site.

Things are really going now!
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By Better Life dude
Can't wait till midnight tonight for the moves to get underway. It's sad when this is your idea of fun on a friday night. I'll probably be out there tonight watching. LOL. :lol:
By Topothehill
I forget what order the moves will be. But I was told today that one will take place at 12:01 AM Sat. morning. The other will start the move at 6AM Saturday
By Opus
Stopped to talk to the Kinter guys after work today on Woodland, the Rowhouse starts moving at 12:01am tonight for sure! Carls Place has an acoustic guitar guy playing tonight too, so maybe a few beers beforehand and we'll call it cheap entertainment!

Also, the Stockbridge project on High Street was going full tilt today too, Koester Const on that project. Weather has really slowed them down, so hopefully see some progress soon.

Anyways, hope to see lots of people out tonight and tomorrow, watching 900 tons of house being moved!
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By Better Life dude
Row House: midnight.
Murillo: Starting in the morning. As the story states: It will be the biggest building moved in the United States this year.

Here's a story from KCCI-TV:
Crews Prep 705-Ton Downtown Building For Move

POSTED: 1:42 pm CST February 29, 2008
UPDATED: 2:52 pm CST February 29, 2008

A specialty moving crew is preparing for the largest building relocation project in the U.S. this year, and it's happening this weekend in downtown Des Moines.

The Murillo Building at 533 14th St. is being moved to make way for the new headquarters for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The new building will span two blocks on Grand Avenue.

The project will cost close to $1 million.

"The Murillo will easily last 200 more years," said contractor Mike Kinter. "It'll be the biggest structure moved in the United States this year."

But how do you move a 705-ton century-old brick building more than three blocks away? That's the project a Des Moines developer presented to the moving crew.

Iowan Jeremy Patterson is tacking the gigantic job.

"You know, we go nationwide. We hunt the big jobs," Patterson said.

Patterson's crew has been working for 17 days to prepare for Saturday's move. The crew slowly jacked the entire building up off its foundation and then moved in an enormous dolly with 192 wheels.

"Now our dollies have motors inside them. We plug in and they actually drive theirself," Patterson said.

Saturday morning, the wheels will start rolling, very, very slowly. They will move the Murillo only 3.5 blocks, but it will take eight hours to get there.

The new site for the building is at 16th and High Street.

"We'll have less pressure per square inch than a semi rolling down the road," Patterson said.

Patterson said anyone who wants to watch is welcome.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A TV crew is also documenting the mega move. The video will be shown on the National Geographic Channel later this year.

Link to story and video:
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By WesternIaGuy
The move is to start at 7am! Asked tonight as i watched the Rowhouse being moved!
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By Aulus
I was out at the row house site downtown around 12:20 AM when they got it going. It actually went faster than I had expected.

Except for when they got to the intersection of 15th and Woodland, where it arrived at about 1:45 AM and stalled out until I had to leave around 3 AM. I think the problem was there were three low wires/cables over Woodland at 16th Street that were also tied into one or more crossing over 16th, just north of the intersection.

I had to be at work this morning at 8AM (made it, too!) so I was not able to stay for the whole job. I did drive by this morning on the way to work and the row house was neatly parked between its new foundations and Carl's Place. I imagine they will be moving it onto the foundations this week.

I took a lot of photos at various spots along the route and will clean them up in Photo Shop after work today. I should be able to post them later this evening.

Some observations from the night:

There were a good number of families, complete with small kids, at the downtown start site.
Huge number of video and still cameras all along the route.
The movers were scooping up snow from the curbs with a skip loader and spreading it under the tires of the house dollie for traction on the icey parts.
Owen Crist towed at least three cars from Woodland. Come on numbnuts, there are signs every eight feet saying no parking after 11 PM, they've been up all day Friday and you STILL leave your car there?
Some guy came down 15th, southbound, got to Woodland, stopped and stared, mouth open for a good two minutes when he saw the row house. heading north.
User avatar
By dogbo
Took a peak at the action this morning around 8:45. The Murillo had been backed away from its original foundation, but not much progress yet. There were several spectators.
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By Better Life dude
Murillo update: It's noon and it's still not entirely onto High Street yet. Lots of delays getting it uphill and off the muddy lot with 200 little tires. 2 HUGH tow trucks are being used to winch the whole building along. Lots of people standing around with cameras, all the TV stations there, the film crew from National Geographic. My bladder gave out after 4 hours and I'm home for a break.

Still lots of action/inaction to be seen. :wink:
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By Des Moineser
It seemed they were having problems with the mud. The ground must have thawed overnight.

Was there from 8:30-10:45, but had tickets to the Drake game. It was a good game, by the way.
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By Better Life dude
Murillo update: THEY MADE IT!!! As of 4:30pm today (Saturday) the Murillo has made it's journey west on High Street and has arrived adjacent to it's new excated hole. Once it got to Quick trip, the rest of the way was pretty steady and smooth. Looks for lots of coverage on the local news tonight - check KCCI, & WHO-TV's web sites too. I took a lot of Murillo pics, hopefully after a good nights sleep I'll post some. The National Geographic TV show camera crew was out in force, too. They had even rented a construction lift to get high camera shots.

The space for Wellmark has really opened up now and Sherman Hill feels a lot more filled in.

Talking with the Sherman Hill "elders" these two moves brings the total moves to the neighborhood up to around 16 or so houses and buildings over the years. One of the people involved in this weekend's moves says he's identified at least a dozen other houses that are either historic or in "peril" around Des Moines that would be excellent candidates for moves to Sherman Hill. :D

Next up on the neighborhood to-do list: Save Kingsway Cathedral and get it developed into something usefulll.
By Topothehill
KCCI has a really cool time-lapse of the move from a camera on their tower downtown.
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By WesternIaGuy
Was there for both of them today, very exciting. You may have seen me, Red Gloves Pink Camera...(bowered moms digital Camera :oops: ) Ill try to post the move from the Digital Camera to youtibe with some music. Too much noice with the equipment to be herad well.
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By Better Life dude
WesternIaGuy: I did not see red gloves and pink camera. Sorry I missed you. You may have seen me: I was wearing purple stocking cap, drinking QT coffee and yelling at two 7 year olds getting wet in snow piles.

What a fun experience today was. There were hundreds of people coming and going throughout the day to watch. There were other house movers from around the midwest who came to see how the big boys did it. I guess the Pattersons are one of the top dogs in the building moving bizz.

Some bystanders I talked with were confused about why any one would spend so much time and money moving buildings. I think it inspired a lot of others that anything involving large buildings can be done. It was also a community event for Des Moines and even a chance to show visitors Sherman Hill. Everyone from the area is excited to have the opportunity for more and more people to move to the neighborhood - especially for the area south of Woodland Ave. You could feel the energy - it could have been the sunshine thawing people out, too.
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By Aulus
From last night, the start of the row house move, as it moves off the original lot:


Moving down High Street:


A little closer:


Turning off High onto 15th Street:


Coming up on Woodland:


Turning onto Woodland:


Home on Woodland:


Same, from the rear:

User avatar
By Aulus
I didn't get to the Murillo move until after work today, at around 4:45 PM:




From the side:


So that's how they do that:


Still digging:

By Cmuse
Fantastic photos -- and an even more fantastic move.

That rowhouse is one of less than two-dozen remaining. In DM's early days, it was typical of working-class housing in the central core, along with detached vernacular houses, duplexes, and four-plexes. In the '70s, I applied for a summer internship at the architectural firm that was (is still?) in that rowhouse.

Anyone know the broadcast times for when National Geographic channel will broadcast the filming of the move? I might bother to keep my cable in anticipation.

P.S. The Marschallin, my DSM drag-queen muse, had one of the apartments in the Murillo, years before I knew him/her. He later moved to the Kirkwood Glen/Ingleside area north of Drake.
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By WesternIaGuy
Is the Murillo going to face West again or is she going to be facing south overlookig the newer downtown areas? I told my Freind we should look into getting a palce there in the Murillo. Who bought that did the 2 Ladies who are partners(metro Properties) buy it?
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By Aulus
In the story on KCCI this morning, live from the site, the reporter said that they were going to turn the building, so I am guessing from that it will be facing south.
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By Better Life dude
The wheels have been turned - not the building. The 198 wheels can be rotated in place so the movers can change direction 90 degrees without having to make the building turn. Quite ingenious. The front door faces west and will be on the 16th Street side. As of 4:30 this afternoon (Sunday) 90% of the building was off of the street and headed into the hole. Lots of mud and a cold wet drizzle was coming down. There are three camera men from the National Geographic still recording every move. There should be an update tonight on KCCI - They were there too. All throughout the day today, more large crowds of people watching either from the side walk along side the hole or sitting in their cars. Truly amazing. :)
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By Better Life dude
Here's a nice article about the move this past weekend. I like the quote of Mike Kinter (the general contractor for the moves) about how he basically feels Wellmark can go to hell on pressuring him to get these buildings off their property. He indicated to me when I talked to him Saturday that they were riding him pretty hard about this. What can you do about the crappy weather we've had though. The row house move was postponed about 6 or 7 times because of weather.
Mud messes up moving day for 2 old buildings

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Who knew that picking up and moving a 705-ton, 105-year-old brick apartment building out of a muddy construction site would be so hard?

Workers had spent weeks readying the Murillo apartment house for a three-block trek from its downtown Des Moines location, a site that will be the future home of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Workers had managed to lift the three-story building off its foundation and onto steel I-beams that rested on 184 specially designed wheels.

Experts said this probably would be the biggest building ever moved in Iowa, but they figured it would take only an hour or so to ease it onto High Street, then a few more hours to roll it to its new home up the way.

But when the move-out moment came shortly after dawn Saturday, all those wheels started sinking into the ground, and the building refused to budge.

Several dozen onlookers watched as two giant front-end loaders, the kind you see at gravel quarries, tugged on chains attached to the makeshift undercarriage.

The loaders' wheels spun and smoked. The building creaked and hunkered down.

No dice.

Mike Kinter, the general contractor overseeing the project, used his cell phone to call a tow-truck company and ask for help. The person on the other end of the line started explaining the available options. "Just send the biggest thing you've got," Kinter said.

An enormous tow truck pulled up to the scene about 15 minutes later, drawing applause from the gathering crowd. The truck, built on a semi-truck chassis, backed up to the building and was hooked on with a thick cable. The truck began pulling, along with one of the original loaders. The Murillo moved a couple of feet forward. The onlookers cheered. The building stopped. Kinter got back on the phone.

The Murillo had to be moved to make way for construction of new corporate headquarters for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The insurer, which helped finance the Murillo's move, had set Saturday as the deadline to get the apartment house off the site or see it demolished.

Kinter had no doubts the crew would succeed, somehow. "By tonight, we'll have this (male offspring of a female dog) on the street, and Wellmark can go to (an extremely hot place)," he said. "And you can quote me on that."

Another, smaller structure, a row house at 1106 High St., was moved from its site overnight without any complications. That building was sometimes referred to as the Henshie-Briggs row house, a reference to Isaac Henshie and Moore Briggs, the developers responsible for building a string of eight connected row houses between 11th and 12th streets on High Street in the 1880s.

But mud bogged down the Murillo's early morning trip. Kinter shook his head as the construction machines slid on the greasy ground. "We dumped 10 loads of rock on there, but you can hardly tell," he said.

Audience members stayed put, despite the morning's cold, damp weather. Kimberly Brown had come from Ames, and she'd dragged her sister and 29-year-old son to the historic scene. "It was a struggle," she said, as her companions rolled their eyes. "It was more of an argument, really." They remained for hours, transfixed by the process.

A second big tow rig showed up and added its power to the effort. At first, everyone thought the Murillo might win again, as the trucks' winches dragged the trucks toward the building instead of the other way around. Then the wheels underneath the apartment house rolled, and they kept rolling. Every now and then, the Murillo would shed a brick or two. But, foot by foot, it kept creeping forward.

Camera crews from local TV stations and from the Discovery Channel documented every inch of progress.

The building's weight was spread out over dozens of special dollies, with hydraulic jacks that went up and down to keep the whole package level over uneven ground. The ride was so steady that workers could set their coffee cups on the I-beams underneath the building and not spill a drop as the contraption rolled along.

Jeremy Patterson, owner of the Washington, Ia., company that moved the building, said he'd undertaken a few bigger projects. "We moved a whole shopping center in Louisiana last year," he said nonchalantly.

The Murillo was finally out of the mud after more than four hours and headed safely up High Street to its new home. A local developer plans to renovate it and reopen it as a Sherman Hill apartment house.

Patterson said he never worried that the building would remain mired in the mud. "We always knew it would go," he said. "The only question was how much equipment we would have to hook up to pull it."

Reporter Tony Leys can be reached at (515) 284-8449 or

Some pictures along with the story:
User avatar
By dogbo
That quote by Kinter is a classic!!

By tonight, we'll have this (male offspring of a female dog) on the street, and Wellmark can go to (an extremely hot place)," he said. "And you can quote me on that."
By kirps
Interesting thing though, the gentleman (who's name I'll withhold as I haven't spoken with him specifically as to how much he wants publicly known) who is now the owner of the relocated Murillo wasn't even on-site during the move. I was in the same place he was and didn't get to see the move.

I was surprised at how calm he was and he didn't even seem to be thinking about it at all. I suppose that's a testament to an experienced businessman...

Also, was the anticipated on-market date for either of these projects announced?
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By Better Life dude
The Murillo will be fixed up this spring with the idea of it being available to renters in the 2nd half of this year. The row house may take longer depending on what the the schedule is of whomever buys it. Right now the row house is owned by the Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association and the SHNA will spend enough money for it's move, the new foundation (already completed) and to make it weather tight and all the utilities hooked back up. The SHNA is talking to potential buyers who would buy it in that condition and do the remaining renovation on their own.

The hope for both buildings is that they could be far enough along to be on the annual neighborhood fall tour of homes in September.
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By Better Life dude
Here's some pictures I took Saturday and Sunday for Murillo move. I took pics about the people covering the story: the local TV station, the National Geographic/ Discovery Channel film crew; the watchers. Now that I've posted these pics, like old buildings, it's time to move on (to other things) :)

Moving up High Street

Who's that guy being interviewed? LOL. Camera and producer from National Geographic/ Discovery Channel.


This is a boy working. His height gives you an idea of the scale of this equipment.

The Yellow box controls all the hydraulics and motors for all 192 wheels.

Mid American crew putting things back together in the wake of the move. Off camera there is a guy up on the pole fixing the street light.

This guy's job was to kick 4x4 blocks of wood on the backside of the wheels so the whole thing didn't roll backwards while traveling up the street. The wheels and building moved about 2 to 3 feet per minute.

National Geographic camera - getting the ant's point of view of the approaching wheels.

Trimmimg branches; gathering the news.

Next day, Sunday morning 9am. Look at the crowd! There were lots more lookers standing up the other street.

Getting ready to go into the new hole dug just the day before. It took EIGHT HOURS to get it from the spot in this picture to it's final resting place in the hole. Lots of mud.
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By DMRyan
Damn, I wish I wasn't out of town this past weekend so I could've caught this move in person. Thanks to all that were there to post photos online. What I feat and I'm still amazed it was all pulled off in such a short amount of time.

Drake University is getting ready to demolish a bunch of older homes (some probably not worth saving) for a slew of parking lots, so hopefully some of the better homes can be saved and moved to other parts of the City. The homes are probably more appropriate architecturally for places built at the same time as the Drake Neighborhood, but a few of the four square type houses could easily fit in in Sherman Hill as well.
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By Better Life dude
Agreed. While there are still many vacant lots in Sherman Hill, the individuals who own them seem to have a death grip on them and won't sell them or work with the many other individuals who have stepped up and asked to buy with the intent on moving houses onto the lots. It's frustrating when you see how quickly filled up the neighborhood could be.