The Path to 1435 Mulberry Street
By Kristine Frakes, Development Director
Beginning in late 2010, and over the course of the next thirty (30) months, a site search committee of the Des Moines Area Religious Council visited dozens of commercial warehouses, office buildings, and other facilities. The goal was to relocate to an affordable space that would be suitable for existing programs and allow DMARC to grow in service to the community.
It soon became apparent that the committee was tasked with a daunting challenge. The spaces available for lease generally were unsuited to DMARC’s needs. And, in addition to ongoing lease costs, virtually all would require substantial remodeling at onetime costs to DMARC ranging upward from $75,000.
As summer turned to fall in 2012, DMARC was notified of two substantial bequest gifts – one from the estate of Raymond O. Strid and the other from the estate of Eleanor Harris. In each instance, family members and/ or DMARC leaders had been given discretion to direct the bequest to the highest and greatest need at the time of the gift. The forethought and vision of these donors, and the support from their families, would become instrumental in paving DMARC’s path to Mulberry Street.
In early 2013, with just one year left on the existing lease, the site search was renewed in earnest. By spring, a vacant building had been identified that had the potential to meet DMARC program and service needs for years to come. But, it was being offered for sale – not for lease.
Could DMARC afford to purchase the property? What were the risks? What were the opportunities?
After substantial research and cost-benefit analysis, it became evident that buying and renovating the property would be more cost efficient in the long-term than leasing. In April, the DMARC board of directors voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of what was to become DMARC’s new home.
Following additional conversations with the families of Mr. Strid and Mrs. Harris, their generous bequest gifts were directed to support the 1435 Mulberry Street project. These gifts, and a first-time donation from a generous anonymous donor, provided the seed funds for the property purchase in July 2013.