• Sat December 23 2006
  • Posted Dec 23, 2006
Susan and Carl Voss are two loyal Des Moines residents who helped trigger the urban revitalization of the East Village. In 1999, the couple of 22 years were living across from the Des Moines Arts Center on Grand Avenue when they decided they wanted a “a new living experience,” Susan says. “Our kids had gone off to college, our dog had died and we didn’t want to do yard work anymore,” she says. The couple bought a 118-year-old building — which in previous incarnations had been everything from a butcher shop to a women’s clothing store — on East 5th Street in 2000, and converted it into a modern, two-story loft. “We were early pioneers,” says Susan, 51. “I think the fact that we were willing to take a risk in a neighborhood that was really underdeveloped — people saw the possibilities of living downtown.” More importantly, many people saw the possibilities from the inside of the Voss’ 3,200-square foot loft. The couple has hosted numerous fundraisers over the years, raising money for organizations that represent their passions. Susan loves to sing — she regularly belts out the national anthem at Iowa Cubs home games. While she was serving as president of the Civic Music Association in 2002-2003, Susan started the Moveable Feast as a way to raise money for the association and bring visitors downtown. “We were trying to expose people to the area through art,” says Susan, Iowa’s Insurance Commissioner. “I’m not afraid to have people come through and show it’s possible to live downtown.” The event, wherein area businesses and residents invite the public to tour their property, has become an East Village fall tradition. Susan’s passion for the arts is complemented by Carl’s passions for exercise and the outdoors. In 2005, as chairman of the Trails and Greenways Advisory Committee, Carl was instrumental in having bike racks installed on city buses. The racks have subsequently become the friend of many city cyclists. The city recorded almost 2,000 riders a month boarding buses with bikes this summer, Carl says. “That’s just awesome.” After the Metro Transit Authority became bike friendly, Carl — whose day job is editor of a quarterly publication of the American Association of Woodturners — turned his attention to the East Village. “We got 16 bike racks installed as public art in 2005-2006,” he says. Now, the advisory committee is looking at installing up to 200 regular bike racks downtown. Carl, 56, has also pushed the city to develop its trail system. “I’m very interested in seeing that more trails connect,” he says. The couple says they are committed to seeing their neighborhood and their city continue to grow. “We both love Des Moines,” Carl says. — Sean J. Miller CityView [BIKEIOWA Note: Carl has been instrumental in Des Moinesfor getting trail connectors, Bus bike racks, bike lanes and racks and the list goes on! CONGRATS Carl! This recognition is well deserved!]

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