Connecting a Community

Wesley Des Moines is Wesley’s nearly 80-year-old flagship campus. Since The Terrace opened in 1961, the campus has been divided by a main thoroughfare to downtown Des Moines — with The Terrace, Terrace Cottages, and Wesley Des Moines Health Center buildings on the north side of South 216th Street, and The Gardens, Gardens Cottages and Brownstone on the south side of the street.

“We’ve long dreamed of connecting the buildings at Wesley Des Moines,” said President and CEO, Kevin Anderson. “Traffic on the road between The Gardens and The Terrace buildings prevents some residents from enjoying activities and events on the other side of the street.” 

Working with our development team – InSite Architects, Walsh Construction, the City of Des Moines, and with support from generous donors – the Wesley Des Moines community has a new skywalk to connect the campus. This dream is finally coming true! The skywalk will give residents a safer way to visit each other and be able to access campus amenities no matter where they reside. They can all enjoy the new swimming pool in The Gardens and the future performing arts center in The Terrace.

On Tuesday, June 27th, the last section of the skywalk was set in place over South 216th Street. Residents, neighbors, City Council members, staff and others turned out to witness this milestone in the 10 year, $250 million redevelopment project that started in 2014. 

As the crowd gathered, Wesley team members passed out ice cream, water and chairs to those who gathered to watch. It was a slow-developing process to lift the middle section of steel in place. Residents filmed the activity for the campus’s Channel 370, and Resident Engagement staff posted photos and video of the event to Facebook. 

While the crane team set the crane in place, workers in hard hats and vests from Walsh Construction and the other subcontractors gathered to review safety protocols and ensure all steps were taken as the last section of the skywalk was prepared to be lifted by the crane. 

Lifted into position on top of the steel beams of the previously set skywalk sections, ironworkers from J&B Fabricators were ready for the main performance of the night – directing the flying beams into place, fitting them together and pounding in the steel bolts with heavy hammers. Careful engineering went into calculating exact measurements. “I sure hope it fits,” said one onlooker. And it did!

At 8:20 p.m., approximately 2 hours after the crowd started to gather, the final section of the skywalk was lifted into place to the sound of delighted applause. It took a few alterations and another half hour for the connections to be bolted together.

“This is a huge milestone in the repositioning of the Des Moines campus as we look to the future,” concluded Kevin.

The skywalk is expected to be available for use when Phase III of The Gardens is completed in early 2024.