Open that gate: Southeast Connector/Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway
The Business Record takes a road to development in Greater Des Moines
Friday, October 19, 2012 7:00 AM
Editor’s note: This article is a part of a series of articles that appeared in the CRE Guide updating readers on four areas of greater Des Moines that are poised for development. Click here to see the full guide. Read all: Alice's Road, Southwest Connector, Southeast Connector/Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway & Go North
A big gateway to development is waiting to be opened between Waukee and West Des Moines. It’s called the Alice’s Road interchange, and it is an opportunity waiting to gallop to freedom for landowners and brokers, city leaders, maybe even commuters who get stalled in rush-hour traffic.
When completed, maybe in 2014, it will join a range of interchanges that have been keys to development.
Without the reconstruction of the East Mixmaster, chances are that The Toro Co. might have looked elsewhere when deciding to relocate a state-of-the-art distribution center in Ankeny. The meshing and splitting of Interstates 35, 80 and 235 at least contributed to Toro’s decision, said Curtis Brown, Ankeny’s economic development director.
And where would all the shoppers and residents and commuters destined for Jordan Creek Town Center be without that lovely bridge and interchange at Interstate 35 and Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines?
Some interchanges, and roads it would seem, are destined for greatness.
The Business Record went looking for those great development gateways and picked out four areas poised for growth.
Southeast Connector/Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway
One area that the city of Des Moines is intent on developing is the southeast, building a connector from Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway all the way to the U.S. Highway 65 bypass.
It is a grandiose project that has bulldogged its way from Southeast Second Street to Southeast Ninth Street, with begrudging assistance from the federal government. The city has scaled back some of its plans because hoped-for levels of funding have not been delivered.
Still, completion of the project at least to Southeast 30th Street is key to development. Kemen Industries Inc. will benefit. Development of the Southeast Agribusiness Urban Renewal Area, which stretches from Southeast 14th Street to the Highway 65 bypass, depends on it, Anderson said.
“The southeast is where the demand is,” he said.
Kemen already is expanding its footprint at 2100 Maury St. The city wants to move its public works facilities to the area.
In addition, the extension helps build out Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway through downtown, where redevelopment projects already are occurring along its corridor.
One example is Hubbell Realty Co.’s decision to build out an area on Southwest Ninth and Murphy streets that it plans to call CityVille, a $35 million residential and commercial development on roughly 10 acres of land it once sold to Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co., then reacquired.
The project provides a residential component to Hubbell’s Riverpoint development south of MLK Parkway and it is a recognition that there remains a strong demand for apartments. Given the still-wobbly economy, it also carries some risk.
“It’s a leap of faith somewhat,” said Hubbell President and CEO Rick Tollakson. “We have a pretty comprehensive market study that indicates the demand for housing in that area, but it’s not going off of Rick Tollakson’s gut reaction.”
Anderson said the project also could provide a spark to development of an area variously called Gray’s Landing and Riverpoint West that stretches south from MLK Parkway to the Raccoon River and Gray’s Lake Park.
“In our view, it’s one of those situations where activity breeds activity,” Anderson said. “We see any project that can kick off that, whatever the market is helping bring on line, they will help each other.”
The extension of MLK Parkway provides additional “connection points” for development.
“MLK as a whole becomes a more complete road,” Anderson said. “When a road is only a certain length, you just don’t connect enough points; you increase its viability as a traffic connector. Southeast 14th to Fleur (Drive), that’s a pretty good span.”
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