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High-profile Urbandale corner has ‘potential to be something different’

Structures on the 4-acre site have been razed and the ground is being prepared for redevelopment


Property on a corner of a high-profile intersection in Urbandale is being prepared for redevelopment – but how quickly that happens depends on the pace of the economic recovery from the pandemic.

A metal-sided office building, warehouse, sheds and storage silos are being demolished and underground concrete slabs and other materials removed from 4 acres at 100th Street and Douglas Avenue. Dynamite Marketing Inc., the property’s owner, plans to sell the site, which is divided into three lots.

“It’s so encouraging to see that the private sector is confident in the core assets and core strengths of this Douglas Avenue corridor,” said Curtis Brown, Urbandale’s economic development director and assistant city manager.

Douglas Avenue is one of Urbandale’s main thoroughfares, stretching from the city’s eastern border near Merle Hay Mall more than 4 miles west past Interstate Highway 80-35. On average, nearly 40,000 vehicles each day pass through the intersection of 100th and Douglas, traffic studies show.

Officials consider Douglas Avenue the city’s “Main Street,” Brown said. Officials want the corridor to become “a unique sense of place” and to include multiple destination points, quality restaurants and entertainment venues, unique retail shops, a variety of housing options, and accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Properties within 500 feet of Douglas Avenue’s centerline are part of the city’s Northwest Market Center Urban Renewal area. Development in the area, which includes the Dynamite Marketing site, is eligible for tax increment financing of up to 90% for no more than three years. 

“We’re envisioning a vibrant east-west corridor with multiple places that attract people from both the community and across the region,” Brown said.

The city is also continuing to invest in improvements along Douglas Avenue, including installing medians, curbs, wide sidewalks and new traffic signals.

All of those things will help make the property at 10100 Douglas Ave. attractive to potential developers, Brown said.

For more than five decades, the site was home to Triple “F” Feeds, which made dog food and feeds for farm animals. In 2008, the property was bought by Idaho-based Dynamite Marketing, a family-owned company that produces foods, vitamins and supplements for animals and vitamins, mineral enhancements and other products for people.

The company had been making some of its products in Urbandale. When the venture became unprofitable, officials moved the production to its Idaho facility and put the Urbandale property up for sale, said Jos Zamzow, Dynamite Marketing’s CEO.

“We had some meetings with the Urbandale officials and a few times we would stand across the street and look over there and try to imagine what it could be,” Zamzow said. 

The aged buildings and crumbling asphalt made reimaging the property difficult, he said. The repairs also would be expensive for a prospective buyer, he said.

Zamzow said he shared Urbandale officials’ vision for the corridor with his family.

“We all thought ‘Let’s participate – let’s be part of something new,’ ” he said. “We decided we would go to the dirt with the older buildings and have a real fresh site there. We’re really excited about any potential opportunities there.

“For 50-plus years it’s been a place that produced [animal] feed. Now it has the potential to be something different.”

Numerous uses exist for the property, including restaurants, office or retail, Brown said. 

The area is part of what Urbandale officials call the “home improvement corridor,” he said. Homemakers Furniture is located on the north side of Douglas Avenue across from the now-vacant property. Numerous home furnishing, home construction and improvement businesses are to the south along 100th Street.

“There’s a real opportunity for the city to work with the developers to put zoning in place that re-envisions the area and makes sure that the uses are complementary to the Douglas corridor and bring value and high-quality development to that area,” Brown said.

Dynamite Marketing is selling the property to interested developers, not developing it itself, Zamzow said. With the buildings gone, it will be easier to envision what could be built on the property, he said.

The demolition began before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and shutdown of the national economy. Zamzow said he realizes the pandemic will slow interest from developers but said there’s not a rush to sell the property.

“We’re looking long-term,” he said. “Once things start getting back to normal, we think the economy will rally pretty quickly. But we also realize nothing will probably happen there until 2021.”

Still, he said, “It’s a lot easier to take care of a nice grassy field than buildings with leaky roofs, critters trying to get into them and vandals.”

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