Landowners and Waukee city officials have discovered that if you can accommodate storm water, you can reach an agreement that is key to economic development in the city.
Waukee announced earlier this week that two sets of landowners had agreed to give up parts of their properties for the extension of Alice's Road between Ashworth Road and University Avenue. The city gets the land for free, but will pay all development costs.
That's a huge benefit for landowners, who typically share those costs when they develop their land. Development is almost a sure thing in the area. The Alice's Road corridor, along with an interchange at a bridge linking the city with West Des Moines, adds a lot of properties to what is considered one of the hottest development areas in Greater Des Moines.
Kurt Brewer is among the property owners who reached an agreement with Waukee.
"I'm incredibly positive," said Brewer, who has mulled a range of development ideas for the corridor. "It took all three parties to cooperate, so everybody got what they felt was fair. I'm very happy with what took place. I'm very happy to have it behind us."
Brewer is well of aware of the enthusiasm that has been generated lately for redevelopment projects in downtown Des Moines. To his mind, those projects pale in comparison with the potential of the area near Alice's Road.
"Comparing (downtown) to the Alice's Road corridor is like comparing apples and broccoli. That's old and this is completely new," he said. "This is the place where people are going to want to be."
Waukee City Administrator Tim Moerman said the last two deals among the many that have been reached with several property owners in recent years hinged in large part on a solution to the pathway of storm water pipes and the location of storm water ponds.
"We worked to reduce amount of land for that, and we were able to find a better way that met the city's needs and those of property owners," he said.
The landowners will see a four-lane roadway pass through their land. Traffic is expected to add up to the kind of numbers that catch the attention of developers. One nearby property owner has said big-box retail companies have expressed an interest.
If the road is extended to six lanes, landowners will be assessed for no more than 50 percent of the cost, Moerman said. That policy will be extended to all other landowners who have reached agreements with the city.
Moerman said he plans to develop another agreement that will establish a policy in which the city and landowners will collaborate in future planning for the area.