May 7, 2024 - News

West Des Moines grows south as it builds homes, warehouses

South Branch Business Park under construction.

South Branch Business Park, a 78,000-square-foot speculative warehouse, is under construction across from Purple Martin Lakes. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

West Des Moines leaders envision decades of development opportunities for the city's south side, especially as it hopes to annex more land all the way to Cumming someday.

Why it matters: While a lot of the city is already built out, the area south of Raccoon River along the Highway 5 corridor is ripe for development, says Ryan Moffatt, WDM's economic development director.

Flashback: Prior to the construction of Microsoft's data centers, which began in 2008, the southern area of West Des Moines wasn't available for building.

  • But since then, data center construction has spurred $200 million in public improvements, which has in turn opened up 4,500 more acres with new infrastructure like water and sewer lines, Moffatt says.
  • They recently annexed 132 new acres of land for Microsoft's sixth data center by Southwest 60th Street, 110th Street, Woodland Avenue and Veterans Parkway, the Register reports.

State of play: Today, the area is a hotbed of new construction.

  • South Branch Business Park, a 78,000-square-foot speculative warehouse is under construction across from Purple Martin Lakes.
  • New water main and sewer lines are underway along the north and south sides of the Highway 5 bypass.
  • More residential subdivisions east of The Chicken restaurant in Orilla are also being planned.

The intrigue: This southern area of West Des Moines had originally been envisioned for business parks and offices, but after the pandemic changed workplace practices, the city has focused on recruiting warehouses instead, Moffatt says.

Yes, but: There have been environmental concerns about the data centers' water usage from the Raccoon River, as well as worries from local residents who don't want the landscape to change.

  • It's one of the most picturesque areas of the city and home to several popular recreational areas including Walnut Woods and Purple Martin.

What we're watching: The city is also looking to expand recreational opportunities in the area like the new pedestrian bridge between Raccoon River Park and Walnut Woods, Moffatt says.

  • There are plans to build a 26-mile marathon loop connecting the city's parks as well as another pedestrian bridge parallel to I-35 to connect to Purple Martin, he says.
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