North Side Community Recreation Center (Grubb YMCA)

Exterior 1_College and 9th - Copy
1611 11th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50314
Planning and design:
Ann Sobiech-Munson
City Architect
(515) 248-6319

Fundraising and communications:
Eric Doll
Park Planner
(515) 248-6322
The City of Des Moines invites your participation in a series of community meetings designed to gather input as we embark upon the first phase of planning for the new North Side Community Recreation Center (Grubb YMCA).

The results of this inclusive and comprehensive planning process will articulate an exciting, vibrant plan that maximizes the project’s potential to serve community groups through a wide range of recreation programs, shared facilities, and community services.

Take Note: Park Improvements and project timelines are dependent upon City Council approval, available budget, and award of the bid within the allocated budget. During the current climate of supply chain issues, material cost increases, and fabrication delays, planned park improvements and estimated timelines will be impacted.

View of North Side Community Recreation Center property


The project site is the current location of the Grubb YMCA and Brian Melton Field between College Avenue and Jefferson Avenue, east of 11th Street. The City of Des Moines has committed $12 million over four years to this project, and additional funds may be added through fundraising efforts. This first phase, called Programming/Planning, focuses on creating a clear plan for the next steps. Future phases will address fundraising, design, and construction, with an anticipated construction completion date in 2025.


The primary purpose of this Programming/Planning phase is to establish a set of project requirements (referred to as "program") and conceptual design options for the new North Side Community Recreation Center (CRC) facility and to develop a comprehensive vision for the site, including the adjacent Brian Melton Field. The results of this inclusive and comprehensive planning process will articulate an exciting, vibrant plan that maximizes the project's potential to serve community groups through a wide range of recreation programs, shared facilities, and community services.


The project requirements and conceptual design that result from this planning phase will be documented in a Program Report. This will aid the City of Des Moines in communicating an inclusive, relevant vision for the new North Side CC and in fundraising to achieve the recommended scope. As such, the North Side CRC Program Report shall include clear recommendations, based on analysis and to champion confirmed goals. Identified priorities, defined scopes of work, probable cost information, and anticipated schedule shall be associated with each recommendation, to support fundraising, budgeting, and future design and construction for the North Side CRC.

Public Meetings Back to Top

WE NEED YOU! Community engagement and equity are fundamental priorities for the project. We need your help to ensure the inclusion of a broad range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas as we work with our consultant team to explore opportunities, identify priorities, and reach consensus regarding key and priority considerations for the future facility.

Thank you to everyone who has participated over the past six community meetings! Follow along with the process so far by reviewing presentations and video recordings from our previous public meetings:

#5: Recommendations - Feb. 17, 2022
Present draft recommendations and receive feedback

#4: Strategies - Jan. 20, 2022
Present preliminary strategies and discuss

#3: Concepts and Process - Nov. 18, 2021
Review project history and process timelines. Discuss building reuse and new construction.

#2: Options - Nov. 4, 2021
Project update, findings from previous meetings, feedback on options.

#1: Vision - Oct. 14, 2021
Project introduction and gathering community input.

The Storytelling Project Back to Top

The City of Des Moines is pleased to announce The Storytelling Project – a dynamic digital initiative in conjunction with the proposed North Side Community Recreation Center. Through a series of videos, The Storytelling Project aims to capture the culture and spirit of the community through the collection and documentation of voices, stories, artifacts, and history.

If you’d like to share your memories of this historic site, please join us for the official launch of The Storytelling Project during a public meeting about the proposed North Side Community Recreation Center, 1611 11th Street on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m.

Click here for more information about The Storytelling Project.

Frequently Asked Questions Back to Top
(Last Updated on 12/2/2021)

A:  Between 2016-2019, several groups explored potential projects at the site of the Variety Club and City of Des Moines John R. Grubb Community YMCA (Grubb Y) and adjacent property. For various reasons, none of these projects moved forward. The City and the YMCA continued to collaborate to explore options for renovation or new construction on the site.

Around this time, community members advocated for use of sales tax dollars for neighborhood investment, including investment into the Grubb Y. This culminated in a March 2019 vote in which 70 percent of Des Moines voters approved a one-cent Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST) to be used in part for neighborhood improvements. [Local Option Sales Service Tax (]

The City recognized the need to plan for the future in order to support ongoing community and recreational services at this site and in this neighborhood. Based on projected revenues from the sales tax, and through the City’s standard budget process, an allocation of funding was incorporated in the recommended FY2022 budget. This allocation included $230,000 for planning and $12m for construction, distributed over 4 years. The $12m is funded by Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST), a direct result of the 2019 sales tax approval.

Because the City had uncertainty at the time regarding the Y’s ability to continue existing operations at this location, the City adopted the model of a Community Recreation Center as a guiding framework for the future project.

A:  The City values the John R. Grubb family’s support, dating back to their contributions to the project that enabled YMCA to open at this location in 1994. We decided to use “North Side” instead of “Grubb” for this project because the final name for the new or renovated facility is not yet decided. The Grubb family is aware of this project, and they will be involved in decisions about how the Grubb name may be used in the future. We intended “North Side” to reference the near north community location until an official name was determined through the fundraising phase or other means. We heard this may have caused confusion, and we have added a reference to “Grubb Y” on our materials and website.

We have heard concerns about the change from a Y to a Community Recreation Center. This is about more than the name. Since the City is leading the project, we are using our Community Recreation Center model as a guiding framework for planning the project. We recognize that services and programs at this site may be different than our other sites, and we will use this planning phase to help determine what needs to happen at this location. We understand that the YMCA is about more than a building. This place is special, and we want to keep what is special about the YMCA and its community-centered culture as we move forward with this project. We also are working with the Y to determine the best ways to continue working together to serve this community, including their ongoing involvement in the process, project, and future programming

A:  We don’t know yet. We’re exploring both renovation and new construction options with our design team in this planning phase. Cost analysis, final functional (program) requirements, and other pros and cons will be evaluated to make a final recommendation by the end of the planning phase.

A:  We don’t know yet. We do know this is an important issue for many community members – that has been confirmed by input we’ve received at the first two meetings. We also know pools are challenging to build and operate. We are working with the design team to better understand the feasibility and potential implications of including a pool in either a renovation or a new construction scenario. The City plans to have recommendations regarding a pool by the end of the planning phase.

A:  The pool initially closed due to the pandemic. During the closure, additional maintenance and repair issues arose. We evaluated what it would take to get it operational, and it is not feasible to reopen given where we are in the planning process.

A:  Based on the current framework, we anticipate there will be a transition at some point. The nature and timing of this transition is unknown until we are farther along in the process. However, the City is working with the Y to foster continued partnership and potential shared programming now and in the new facility.

A:  The variety and types of programming that may be offered will be determined based on community input and the various operational opportunities that may arise from this planning process.

A:  No. In fact, the intent is to support and expand E.K. Davis Park programs through this project by adding capacity for year-round programming.

A:  There is no intention to change the name of the park as features may change.

A:  To be determined through this process. The City does not own all the parcels in the open area east of the existing Grubb Y. Any future property purchase will be subject to City Council approval.


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