Des Moines’ proposal for development south of Gray’s Lake unveiled
Redevelopment is underway in an industrial area south of Gray’s Lake, and city leaders want to prepare for what they believe could become an area of choice for new housing as well as restaurants and other properties. commercial.
The South Gray’s Lake Master Plan identifies what could happen if developers transform 140 acres along Thomas Beck Road, stretching from Southwest Seventh Street to Fleur Drive, from its current industrial and office use. He envisions a vibrant mixed-use area similar to the East Village.
The plan does not include Gray’s Lake Park, which operates under its own master plan.
“This will be a very desirable location… so I would say there is a very high probability that there will be a lot of excitement and opportunity,” City Manager Scott Sanders said in a working session on advice Monday.
Des Moines City Council members have heard details of the plan and will vote on its passage later this year.
Chris Shires, director of Confluence, a landscape architecture firm in Des Moines that serves as a consultant to the city, said he had drawn up a plan for a “green urban neighborhood” that would allow dense residential development while preserving a much of the canopy of trees in the area and providing undisturbed green space. His proposal is based on eight months of stakeholder interviews and community responses.
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The plan envisions a mix of mid-rise apartment buildings and townhouses at varying prices, ranging from rentals to high-end owner-occupied units. In the center would be a multi-story shopping district with room for restaurants, shops, offices and more housing.
The shopping district would feature a double ‘woonerf’ – a Dutch expression for a street designed to be more oriented towards pedestrians than towards cars, but on which vehicles can still circulate. It would have outdoor seating for businesses and space for activities, such as a stage or sports field.
There is also an elevated boardwalk on the north side of the site, which overlooks a planned wetland south of the Meredith Trail, the walking and biking trail adjacent to Gray’s Lake Park. The promenade could house bars, restaurants and other shops facing wetlands and trails that “would play with the natural beauty of the area,” Shires said.
“We don’t have a lot of areas in this metro, if you think about it, where you have a very busy and actively used pedestrian cycle path with retail, activity points. They are very rare. , “he said.” This is where we can create a much more utilized type of recreation space, playing (Gray’s Lake Park) but reducing park traffic. “
The master plan keeps in place two of the existing buildings – the Iowa Finance Authority at 1963 Bell Ave. and the industrial building at 1235 Thomas Beck Road where Confluence Brewing Co is located.
The rest of the land is privately owned and some buildings are currently in use, such as Wesco Distribution and the Bell Avenue Business Center.
The city does not plan to buy land from private owners to implement the ideas of this master plan. But when homeowners look to long-term investments, they may be willing to redevelop accordingly, Shires said.
“It’s just a blueprint – it’s a concept. And we’re doing this to get people excited about the future, the what ifs, what might happen, the potential of this field,” he said. . “There are more than one good way, there are more options, and anything that gets built is likely to be a little different.”
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Krause +, the real estate arm of the Krause Group, the operator of Kum & Go convenience stores based in Des Moines, owns the Bell Avenue business center at 1901 Bell Ave. and its surrounding 47 acres. He’s working on a plan for the land, according to the city. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.
Plans from private owners, along with a city-led study of the area’s infrastructure, led officials to create the South Gray’s Lake Master Plan, said Ryan Moffatt, economic development coordinator.
“We are doing this because we know what’s coming and the private market is telling us,” he said.
Moffatt said that when the first office and housing projects were proposed for the Market District, a large industrial area south of the East Village that is currently being redeveloped, “we kind of got caught up in the deprived “because the city was not ready to meet the infrastructure needs such as an increase in the capacity of the sewers and a change in the layout of the streets. The Market District now has a master plan for its 260 acre area that provides for over 3,400 apartments and townhouses and 345,000 square feet of retail space.
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“And so this is our effort to come in and when the developers approach the city, we can point to this study and say here is the framework, the elements of the plan that we would like you to try to follow,” he said. .
The district is not eligible for assistance such as tax increase funding, although Moffatt said that could change depending on whether developers can show costs to exceed anticipated revenues.