The Vision Iowa Board on Wednesday approved a $980,000 grant to help finance a massive expansion to an attraction in the state’s capital city.


Motorists passing through Des Moines find it hard to miss the 80-foot tall plexiglass dome located just off of Interstate 235 along the Des Moines River. Stephanie Jutila is president of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

“We have a very iconic building on the landscape and we’re going to have very iconic gardens on the landscape as well,” Jutila said. Part of the botanical center’s dome and the exterior gardens are in for a roughly $20 million overhaul.

Phase one plans call for a water garden, a botany lab, a new cafe and an event lawn. “The event lawn could be used for a concert, a wedding celebration or I also think of yoga in the morning in that garden space would be fantastic,” Jutila said.

The nonprofit Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is taking ownership of the center from Des Moines Water Works and has already collected over $10-million toward the project. Phase one enhancements for the 14-acre site are slated for completion in the summer of 2014.