May 15, 2021

Wide open spaces

Refurbishment of Maytag Plant 2 well underway by Phoenix Investors

1 of 2

Clean, usable, open space — that is what greeted the brokers viewing the former Maytag Plant 2 during an open house on Wednesday.

Phoenix Investors, the commercial real estate firm which purchased the property for $6.7 million in 2015, hosted more than a dozen brokers whose clients have shown interest in leasing the newly refurbished building.

Totaling more than 1.3 million square feet, the building, which hadn’t been used for close to a decade, was quite the undertaking. The Milwaukee-based firm was more than ready for the challenge and has already made substantial progress on large portions of the project.

“This type of project, you would call it our bread and butter,” said Phoenix Investors Vice President of Acquisitions and Leasing Patrick Dedering. “We can come into a former single tenant manufacturing facility and add the capital required to bring it back to life.”

To begin, the company had major infrastructure demolition to complete, with most of the building separated into a main floor with a second floor mezzanine throughout. With a goal of having large open spaces, the company’s construction crew and local subcontractors had their work cut out for them.

“There was a lot of infrastructure to tackle to get to this point,” project manager Marsha McNeil said.

Dedering said most of the demolition work has been completed and former pits in the building have been filled with excess rubble and paved over. Portions of the roof have also been addressed, with more work to come in the spring.

“Coming this spring, we will be undergoing the next phase of roof repair and replacement,” Dedering said. “1.3 million square feet in this complex alone is not something you can reroof in a summer, so we’ve taken a phased approach to it with the tenants to have come to the table looking to lease space.”

The plan for refurbishment is to chip off 200,000 to 300,000 square feet at a time, Dedering said. Amenities in the finished areas including new lighting, paint, cleaned floors and upgraded mechanicals. Additional improvements feature thermocyclers, an air rotation system that kept the heat pumping and pulls the heat off of the ceiling to circulate it.

“As a service to our tenants, we put in high efficiency lamps with motion sensors on them and that is a direct cost savings to our tenants at the end of the day because they are paying the utility bill,” Dedering said.

With a space of this size, the idea of keeping the large area flexible is key to finding future tenants. Currently, portions are partitioned off with plastic to maintain dust control but areas up to 600,000 square feet of continuous space will be available to accommodate a potential tenant.

“It is nice to be able to be flexible and shift efforts where needed,” Dedering said. “We had a tenant looking to consolidate into a little more than 200,000 square feet so we understood their timeline, understood what they needed and got to work.”

Long term plans for the building include replacing docks that had been demolished on the south side of the building, completing paving projects around the exterior, the ongoing roof replacement and painting the exterior. While the company doesn’t have an exact time frame for the project, material work should be complete in about a year, Dedering said.

As for filling the building, the firm is starting to bring in potential tenants, with the first broker open house on Wednesday. The feedback was positive, Dedering said, with future meetings planned to continue showing the space.

“There is a broker with a client that is looking for anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 square feet. I think there is some real strong interest there,” Dedering said.

The next step in the process is for the prospective clients to tour the building and then discussion begin to put a deal together for occupation. With a tight market in Des Moines where the vacancies rates are low with little available space for companies, Dedering thinks the building is in a good position.

“We have Trinity Structures who are a long term tenant and they are a great asset to the building. We hope to put in more Trinity’s, more manufacturers, more distribution type tenants in the space,” Dedering said. “Our advantage here is that we have fresh reconditioned space but because our operating expenses are so low we can also offer an economical deal. We can get aggressive for the right deal.”

With benchmarks being hit on work in the building, Dedering is excited to continue showing off the refurbished sections to potential tenants. As the remodel continues, the firm hopes to bring back clients who may have seen the building prior to the renovation who showed little interest in its previous state.

“We get people back in who have seen it where it had a certain stigma, and they just crossed it off of their list before they ever even really looked at it,” Dedering said. “We find these events beneficial to get people back through and see the new facelift on it and then hopefully recommend it to their clients.”

There is more than 1.8 million square feet of space to fill in the three buildings acquired by Phoenix Investors, providing an opportunity to bring multiple tenants who could bring in new jobs and residents to the City of Newton.

“We had one broker with a manufacturer looking for about 60,000 square feet so obviously that will come with a jobs component, which is what the city could really use,” Dedering said. “That is an exciting lead.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or