Oct 25, 2022 - News

Windsor Heights sheds its old identity

University Avenue

Windsor Heights along University Avenue. Photo courtesy of Eric Burson

Windsor Heights is shedding its identity as a curmudgeonly speed trap, and is shaping into a suburb that's becoming increasingly diverse, young and progressive.

Driving the news: You may not have been paying attention to the suburb of 5,000 and that's fair — even the city's own leaders have recognized that it's become known as a "speed trap" and suffered bad public relations for decades.

Yes, but: In the last decade, the city's gone through a steady evolution, including getting rid of its infamous speed cameras in 2020.

Why it matters: Changes and diversity are coming to the town, including the opening of AWS's Mediterranean Market, Kathmandu and Chin Family Asia Grocery Store.

State of play: Mike Jones' mayoral win in 2021 is one of the most recent and visible changes to happen to the town.

By the numbers: The suburb is shifting from historically purple to leaning blue because of the influx of younger and more diverse populations to the town, thanks in part to the more affordable homes, Jones said.

  • In the 2012 general election, 430 Democrats and 371 Republicans were registered to vote in Precinct 1. By 2020, it was 593 Democrats and 289 Republicans, according to Iowa Secretary of State data.
  • Its Hispanic and Latino population grew from 2.2% in 2010 to 7.6% in 2020, according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Zoom in: One reason for the shift is the housing boom and the cheaper prices of Windsor Heights' homes. That's helped first time buyers and refugees and immigrants who move to the suburb.

Details: The median listing price for a home in the neighborhood was $291K in September according to realtor.com. It was $320k for West Des Moines.

What's next: Following redevelopment on University Avenue, Jones expects city officials to focus on redeveloping Hickman Road to appeal to more local businesses.


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