Axios Des Moines

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It's Tuesday!

🌬️ Weather: Breezy with a high of 73°.

πŸͺ¦ Hey, Axios Des Moines members! We're hosting an exclusive event where we'll tour the historic Woodland Cemetery. Tickets go live this afternoon at 1pm. Check your inbox to claim your spot.

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πŸŽ‚ Speaking of members, happy birthday to Kelsey Batschelet, Erin Johnston and Jessica Lown!

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 915 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: West Des Moines expands south

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 city 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 development.

  • 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.

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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2. Des Moines smells better

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you think it smells outside, it may be time for a personal reckoning.

  • Des Moines' bad smell complaints are down following the completion of a $2 million odor burning project by Smithfield Foods, according to a report provided to the City Council Monday.

Why it matters: The report is among the first indications that Des Moines' new scientific stink detection program is working and prompting businesses to take action.

Catch up fast: The city began using an "eNose" system to measure chemicals that cause smell in October.

  • Monitors and a weather station collect data near animal processing plants on DSM's southeast side, a place that had been identified as a likely major source of the city's foul odor problem.

Driving the news: Multiple businesses are working alongside the city to monitor the data and have invested in their own odor reduction equipment.

  • Pine Ridge Farms pork packing plant, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., started using a system in February to burn gasses that cause odors, Dalton Jacobus, the city's neighborhood inspections administrator, told the council Monday.
  • The total number of city complaints between February and March fell more than half, from 37 to 16, per the report.

Reality check: The city only has five months of data and warmer months are generally when complaints increase.

Yes, but: The numbers indicate improvement, Jacobus told the council.

What's next: The city has suspended taking actions against odor violators until they have a full year of data.

  • Recommendations on how to handle future violations will be reviewed by the City Council later this year.

Meanwhile, monthly odor reports are being published online.

Read more: What influences odor complaints

3. Quote du jour: What we lose

The "Chili King" sign being removed. Photos: Courtesy of Andy Lyons

"The one thing I always hear from people when they go to Europe is they love the old buildings there and they come home and they say, 'I wish we had buildings like that.' Well, we used to, but we tore many of them down."
β€” Tim Waddell, president of Des Moines Heritage Trust

Seven iconic buildings in the Des Moines metro are at risk of demolition or serious disrepair, according to Des Moines Heritage Trust, a local nonprofit that preserves historical buildings.

Driving the news: The nonprofit released its annual list of the metro's most "endangered" sites yesterday.

  • It included cultural stalwarts like George the Chili King and the Butler Apartments.

Related: 7 endangered buildings listed by Des Moines Heritage Trust

4. The Ear: Catch up on the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ‘Ž Fleur Heights Center for Wellness & Rehab in Des Moines and Pine Acres Rehabilitation & Care Center in West Des Moines were added to a federal government list of the country's worst care facilities. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

πŸ’ A majority of delegates at the Iowa GOP state convention voted to encourage the repeal of gay marriage. (Radio Iowa)

πŸ—³ House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst has not ruled out running for governor. (Des Moines Register)

5. The best thing Linh ate: A pie shake

A Dutch letter pie shake ($9). Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Linh here. If you missed out on Tulip Time last weekend, don't worry β€” you can still taste some Dutch letters.

What I ate: A Dutch letter pie shake ($9) from Smith Bros. Crafted Beverages and Home Slice Handmade Pies in Bondurant.

What it is: A Dutch letter pie slice, blended with vanilla ice cream and milk, topped with almond vanilla whipped cream and puff pastry crumbs.

What I liked: Because there's a whole pie slice blended into the shake, you're getting little nuggets of almond paste and flakey pie crust through your straw.

Where to get it: 10am-5pm at Home Slice Handmade Pies this Saturday only.

🎾 Linh is gonna finally see "Challengers" at The Fleur tonight.

πŸ₯© Jason is having dinner at Prime & Providence steak and oyster bar's soft opening tonight.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and Lucia Maher.