Construction has started on a building in Valley Junction that will be home to a sports- bar restaurant and retail store.
Developer Tim Rypma, who also is involved in other developments in the historic West Des Moines neighborhood, plans a 4,900-square-foot, one-story building at 111 Fifth St. on the southern edge of the mixed-use business district.
Restaurant Bix & Co. has signed a lease for the southern parcel, which includes a large patio facing Railroad Park. The remaining space, between Bix & Co. and the adjacent building housing Big Acai Bowl, is available for lease, preferably to a retail tenant, Rypma said.
To make way for the new building, the team demolished a 1960s concrete masonry structure that housed a CPR Cell Phone Repair store, which moved a block north to 216 Fifth St.
The proposal gained approval from the Valley Junction Historic Master Plan Steering Committee, which has created a set of design guidelines to preserve the nature and character of the district, the historic downtown of West Des Moines. The guidelines include a pause on demolition until September so the committee can identify historic buildings targeted for preservation.
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Rypma said the building will mimic its surroundings, with full brick construction, large windows and wrought iron detailing.
“Everything we know about historical preservation, we’re putting toward trying to make the building look like it’s been there for 100 years,” he said.
Bambi Helm, who will open Bix & Co. with her son Darren Helm, part-owner of 300 Craft & Rooftop in downtown Des Moines, and business partner Matt McCormick, said the restaurant will be a family-friendly sports bar that serves pizza, burgers and appetizers.
They plan wall of TVs, a billiards table and, possibly, breakfast on the weekends.
The team wants “to pay homage to Valley Junction history” with tables made out of elm, locust, walnut and maple — the names of the four cross streets in the business district — a foot rail made of railroad rail around the bar, and railroad spikes for purse hooks, Bambi Helm said.
The restaurant is named after her 91-year-old father, Bob Bixenman, who is known by his friends as “Bix.” He started Bix Basement Systems in Fort Madison in 1960. It now serves three states.
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“He’s the greatest entrepreneur we know and he has just instilled that in me, and Darren as well,” Bambi Helm said. “And so we just really wanted to do something for him — we’re just so proud of him and he’s so proud of us.”
Bix & Co. is expected to open in November.
Rypma plans to invest $2.3 million, with a return of $300,000 through a new property tax rebate program in place in the business district.