Land is moving out from under Brad Burt's feet, and he couldn't be happier.
Burt might be best known as the president and CEO of Maid-Rite Corp. Along with his wife, Tania, Burt also manages Oakleaf Properties LC, a company that is overseeing the development of 138 acres of prime development ground along Alice's Road near what will be an interchange with Interstate 80.
Gateway West is that development, and the first parcel is in the process of being sold. Kum & Go LC will pay more than $1 million for 2.2 acres at the northeast corner of the planned Alice's Road interchange with I-80.
Burt, not one to hide his enthusiasm, said Kum & Go will build a state-of-the-art convenience store at the location. He envisions a Gateway West future that includes office buildings, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, including big box stores, and multifamily housing.
"We are very pleased to have such a well-established and well recognized brand, like Kum & Go, at this site location, which our whole family feels is very important," Burt said.
All of that development is planned for land that has been in the Burt family since the 1950s, a much simpler time in what was a Waukee community dominated by large grain elevators and a vanishing coal mining community.
The city's growth has become almost legendary, and the build out of Alice's Road is expected to trigger additional commercial and residential development.
The Burts are among a handful of property owners who are gearing up for that development. And so is the city.
City Administrator Tim Moerman said one of his goals, along with the mayor and City Council, was to make the community a part of future development decisions. That appears to be happening. In May, the City Council approved formation of an economic development department. Earlier this month, Dan Dutcher was hired to lead the department.
"One of the cool things as we go through the planning process, we're going to be full partners with the property owners," Moerman said.
Dutcher, who starts work Aug. 19, is well versed on the city and the Greater Des Moines real estate and development industry. He is a former member of the City Council and his resume includes time at Hubbell Realty Co. and Terrus Real Estate Group LLC. He most recently worked as a consultant with Knapp Properties Inc., which has considerable land holdings along the Alice's Road corridor.
In addition, the City Council has approved hiring Confluence architecture to map out future planning for the corridor. Principal Brian Clark will oversee that effort.
Moerman said the idea is to have a single company follow the changing development patterns over the long haul.
All of those events fuel Burt's enthusiasm about prospects for the corridor and the city, but there is more to come.
"Having grown up in this area, including going to school at Waukee, when there were only 900 people in the whole town, it is amazing to see what is now happening to the entire area with the tremendous growth that has taken place, especially over the past ten years," he said. "Having 50,000 cars go by each day on Alice's Road will be a wonderful sight to see."
After years of studying and planning, the Federal Highway Administration has approved construction of the Alice's Road interchange at I-80, a project that was never a foregone conclusion, and which was opposed at various times by Greater Des Moines planning authorities. Although he points out that there is no such thing as a hard construction deadline, Moerman believes work on the interchange should begin next June or July, with completion by the end of 2015.
The city also hopes to take bids for the extension of Alice's Road from University Avenue south to Ashworth Road in August and begin grading what will become a six-lane road in the fall, he said.
Burt's development is being designed by Bill Ludwig and his design firm. NAI Optimum is marketing the property.
With Kum & Go slated for the interchange, the obvious question is whether a Maid-Rite might show up in the location, as well.
Burt is thinking about it, and imagines the iconic restaurant serving travelers, denizens of Gateway West and Waukee residents.