Nov 23, 2021 - News

Des Moines to consider Douglas Avenue revitalization plan

A few of the closed businesses or vacant lots along Douglas Avenue. Photos: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Drive along Des Moines' Douglas Avenue and you'll notice multiple closed retailers and empty lots.

  • City planners are trying to change that under a proposed development incentive for the 2.8-mile stretch between the Des Moines River and Merle Hay Road.

Why it matters: It's one of the city's busiest corridors, with more than 15,000 vehicles traveling along the avenue daily.

  • Successful redevelopment could contribute to the local economy and improve overall quality of life in the community.

What's happening: The Douglas Avenue Coalition, a neighborhood revitalization effort that launched in 2015, is pushing to make tax increment financing (TIF) available for future development in the area.

State of play: The 105-acre area was in its prime about 60 years ago when restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues like a drive-in theater made it a destination point.

  • But the area has faced issues in recent years, including a 2017 fire that destroyed the Plaza Lanes bowling alley.

What they're saying: Having TIF already in place can help jumpstart revitalization, Lower Beaver neighborhood president Jeremy Geerdes told Axios yesterday.

  • A hotel or mixed housing and retail project on the nearly four-acre former bowling site is among his hopes for the neighborhood, he said.

Of note: Should the plan get approval, incentive costs and a timeline for redevelopment would largely be dependent on proposals by private property owners and developers.

A map of an area that could receive development incentives along Douglas Avenue in Des Moines.
Des Moines would make tax increment financing available in this area under a plan that goes before the City Council Dec. 6. Map courtesy of the city of Des Moines

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