Resources and FAQ

River Bend Neighborhood

How do I become a member?

If you want to become a member, which gives you rights to vote for the Association board and run as a board member after one year of membership, the cost is $10 per person per year.

Who can attend the meetings?

Everyone is welcome to attend board and general meetings free of charge. But only paid members in good standing can vote.

When and where are meetings held?

Board meetings are held the last Tuesday of the month at 6pm at the CFUM future site, 1604 6th Ave. General meetings are held on the last Tuesday of the quarter at 7pm at the CFUM future site, 1604 6th Ave.

Is River Bend close to downtown events?

River Bend is less then 2 miles from the center of downtown Des Moines, including the Civic Center, Iowa Events Center, Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, Hy-Vee Hall, the Des Moines Public Library, the Grubb and downtown YMCA, Principal Park, home of the Iowa Cubs Baseball team, the Principal River Walk, the Downtown Des Moines Dog Park, along with the Historic Court Avenue Entertainment District and Historic East Village featuring some of Des Moines best night clubs, restaurants and more.

Local Historic District

I understand that the Local Historic District is a great way to preserve our history and I want to do more, how can I get involved?

The first step should be to contact the River Bend Neighborhood Association Housing Committee and we will get in touch. We have monthly meetings covering the Local Historic District, housing projects we are working on, and a new National Historic District effort about to be underway in the neighborhood and we could use the help!

My property presently has vinyl siding and windows. Does this mean I will be forced to reside and replace my windows with guideline compliant materials?

No. If you do not replace the existing siding or windows, you are not required to comply.  If you go to replace or substantially repair your vinyl siding or windows, you will then be required to use materials that comply with the historic guidelines.

What if I decide to go ahead with my external renovations without obtaining approval?

This choice would most likely cost you more time and money than if you would have contacted the River Bend Neighborhood Association Housing Committee and went through the approval process.  If you are reported to the city of starting/completing renovations that do not comply to the Historic District Fence Guidelines or the Historic District Architectural Guidelines, the City will issue a stop work order and you will be required to go through the approval process.  Any renovations that are non-compliant with the guidelines will most likely need to be changed to be compliant.

My original single pane, wood windows are not energy efficient, what can I do about that?

If you refurbish your existing windows and add a good storm window, the energy efficiency of this solution closely matches, and may even exceed, any new double pane window.

What is the process to get approval for external renovations to my property?

The first step should be to contact the River Bend Neighborhood Association Housing Committee and we will help you through the process which consists of completing a simple certificate of appropriateness applications for your renovations.  This process does not take the place of requirements to obtain a building permit from the city. To apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness you must complete this form.

Will using approved materials and making historically accurate renovations to my property cost me more? Are there resources to help me afford these improvements?

Because you are located in a National Historic District which was one of the requirements to become a Local Historic District, State Historic Tax Credits are available and my apply to your home renovations; there may also be grant opportunities for particularly unique historic elements. Federal historic tax credits are also available for commercial properties. A forgivable loan of up to $10,000 or $20,000 may be available for your home through the Neighborhood Finance Corporation. And your improvements may qualify you for a 10-year property tax abatement from the City of Des Moines. Contact the River Bend Neighborhood Association Housing Committee and we will help you figure out if your renovations are covered and we will help you apply.

Is my property in the Local Historic District?

Download the Local Historic District Map for the now approved Local Historic District boundaries. All structures – including homes, multi-family apartment buildings, and commercial buildings – are subject to the history design guidelines.

What renovations to my property are subject to the local historic district requirements?

Exterior renovations, alterations, and demolitions and new construction are covered by the Local Historic District guidelines, interior changes are not.  Exterior improvements include but are not limited to windows, siding, doors, foundations, siding, porches, garages, roofs, decks, fencing, retaining walls, railings, stairs, and sidewalks.  Exterior renovations not subject to Local Historic guidelines include but are not limited to paint color storm windows, and plantings.  The safest steps to take before beginning exterior renovations would be to review the Historic District Fence Guidelines and/or the Historic District Architectural Guidelines listed above. Then contact the River Bend Neighborhood Association Housing Committee and we will help you understand requirements and help you through the process to acquire a certificate of appropriateness from the City.

Why does the City of Des Moines want to control what I do with my property?

No, members of the River Bend Neighborhood Association initiated this project and approached the city to work with us. Over 70% of our owner-occupied properties signed the petition to become a local historic district.  Once the neighborhood showed us they wanted the local district, the City approved it through a  very detailed public process. The City now enforces the ordinance just as it enforces zoning and building codes.

How will the Local Historic District benefit River Bend?

River Bend has some of the most distinctive architecture in the city of Des Moines that needs to be preserved. It helps makes our neighborhood one of the most unique areas in the metro area. The area that is now the River Bend Local Historic District has been a National Historic District for over a decade. As more houses are either demolished or non-historically accurate renovations occur on our houses in the district, we run the risk of losing our National Historic District status and the benefits associated with that designation. The designation also protects the investments people make in their homes and other properties, ensuring that renovations and new construction add long-term value to the neighborhood, adding to the area’s unique quality of life.

Problems

Yard waste / debris disposal

The SCRUB (Spring Cleanup to Remove Urban Blight) Program offers Des Moines residents an opportunity to dispose of debris, yard waste, tires and appliances at no cost. Click on this link for details about SCRUB.

Neighborhood Based Police Delivery
  • Our DMPD Neighborhood Based Service Delivery (NBSD) Officer is Ofc. Brookelyn Budd
  • She can be reached at bfbudd@dmgov.org or 515-971-0730.
  • Officer Budd is the NBSD officer in charge of the River Bend neighborhood which is a branch of the Des Moines Police department.
  • Contact officer Budd if you have a situation that you feel needs the attention of law enforcement but is not of an urgent nature or if you have contacted authorities and would like her to follow up on a situation.
Police non-emergency dispatch

Non-emergency dispatch number 515-283-4811

Police or fire emergency

Call 911.

Street light out

To report a street light out, email Maggie mnorton@midamerican.com and carbon copy Deanna dlharwood@midamerican.com. Include the address where the street light is located.

Local Historic District enforcement
  • Jan Shafer, City Inspector
  • He can be reached at jlshafer@dmgov.org, cell 515-208-0319, office 515-283-4008
Unshoveled snow

To report any measurable unshoveled snow on sidewalks 48 hours after the end of a snow fall, call 515-283-4950

Overgrown properties

Send an email to weedcommision@polkcountyiowa.gov. Include the address of the violation.

Other Resources:

Renovation tips / trusted contractors

Renovating tips and trusted contractors check renovatedsm.org. It is the official website of the Des Moines Rehabbers Club! The DSMRC is a non-profit group dedicated to revitalization in Des Moines through renovation, preservation, and maintenance of historic buildings.