A Brief History of the Parks Area Foundation (PAF)

          The PAF was incorporated as an Iowa Non-Profit Corporation in 1998.  Our goals are continued revitalization and educating our residents and other citizens of Des Moines on the history of our neighborhoods and ongoing benefits of living and working the Parks Area. 

           From the beginning, our focus has been on community improvement projects with a strong emphasis on education about our rich history.  A historian has called the Highland and Oak Park areas one of the most perfect examples of a “streetcar suburb” in the Midwest. 

           We have two National Historic Districts for which PAF is the major booster group.  In 2000 we purchased the road signage to identify the areas.  PAF has sponsored the painting of two large murals depicting local history in addition to publishing a local history book and a DVD showing the area as it appeared in the 1930’s. 

           Our only large economic development project has been the purchase and historic renovation of a mixed use building in the 6th and Euclid National Historic District.  This project brought five low-to-moderate income apartment back in to service for local residents.  The building was renovated to National Park Service Standards and was funded by State and Federal historic Tax Credits, a PAF mortgage and a 5-year forgivable loan from the City of Des Moines. 

            PAF is the partner with the City of Des Moines in the Highland Park Self Supporting Municipal Improvement Project (SSMID).  This is a taxing district to find and support streetscape improvement in the district including historic lighting, historic arch over the street, historic signage, trees, planters, and public benches.