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Cities collaborate on multimillion-dollar development project


The cities of Waukee and West Des Moines are moving full steam ahead in on a major corridor project along the western edge of Greater Des Moines that will eventually feature a mix of commercial space, residential developments and office parks.

And right in the center is a $16 million interchange with Interstate Highway 80 that leaders expect to pay for through contributions from both cities and $10 million in federal funding.

“I would say from the city’s perspective, the sooner we can get started the better,” said Waukee Community Development Director Jody Gunderson. “Anything that we need to address, we will gladly address. But we’ve been working on this for quite a long time, and we would like to see the fruits of our labor.”

Waukee City Manager Mark Arentsen said the Alice’s Road corridor project has been in the city’s comprehensive plan since 1992. The City Council passed an amendment to the comprehensive plan in December that localized land use, transportation, recreation and development issues to the corridor project.

“It’s kind of an up-to-date version according to what we think that corridor is going to be, how we think the road is going to look, and the land uses around it and how they’re going to work together,” said Waukee Planning Director Chad Weaver.

The boundaries of the corridor extend from University Avenue south to I-80 and from V Avenue to Waco Place. Weaver said the area surrounding the future interstate interchange will feature commercial development. The city has envisioned an office park development farther north along Alice’s Road, similar to Westown Parkway in West Des Moines, with residential development on the east and west sides of the corridor. The entire stretch of Alice’s Road from University Avenue to I-80 will be developed as a boulevard, with a landscaped median and a trail connection.

“The reason we picked the mix that we did is because we’ve already got commercial development along [U.S.] Highway 6,” Weaver said. “So [office development] is probably more of a focus than commercial development, but we also can’t ignore commercial.”

Weaver said approximately half of the corridor’s 1,300 acres will be devoted to residential development.

Gunderson said it is likely that construction on the corridor will begin in late 2006, which will include work on the I-80 interchange and several widening projects. Alice’s Road will initially be widened to two lanes, one in each direction, and eventually a total of five lanes, with future plans to widen the road from University Avenue north to Hickman Road. University Avenue will also be widened from Waco Place to Alice’s Road.

City leaders are hesitant to put any sort of a timeline on the development project, but are hopeful that Alice’s Road and the interchange are ready for development in three or four years. “Even full build-out (of the corridor) could take 15 to 20 years,” Weaver said. “You just don’t know.”

West Des Moines city leaders, who know Alice’s Road as 105th Street, are moving ahead on the southern portion of the corridor project, which has been in that city’s comprehensive plan since the early 1990s.

The cities have each committed $3 million to the I-80 interchange and this year will seek the remaining $3 million of the $10 million in federal funding needed to complete the project.

Clyde Evans, the city’s director of community development, said a timeline for the project is contingent upon construction of the interchange, but expects development to begin taking shape within the next five years. In the future, E.P. True Parkway and Grand Avenue will be extended to 105th Street, with the expectation that an office park development will be established parallel to I-80.

The stretch of 105th Street south of the interchange to George Mills Civic Parkway will be a mix of various types of development. Similar to Waukee, West Des Moines has planned for commercial development around the interchange, with residential development farther south along the road. Office development will likely spring forth along the interstate.

“In essence, it is a continuation of our development along I-235 and I-80,” Evans said.

West Des Moines Public Works Director Larry Read said he believes construction would begin in 2007 at the earliest and 2009 at the latest.

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