The state of Iowa has looked the other way, for now, on funding for a sports complex in West Des Moines, but landowner Bill Spencer sees better days ahead for the nearly 270 acres where the complex could have been located.
Spencer picked up the land, located at a future interchange on Interstate 80 that will link West Des Moines and Waukee, back in 2008 after he and an investment partner took ownership from a Regency development company.
It is likely that the city of West Des Moines will submit an application again next year under the state's Reinvestment District program for $11.4 million in sales and hotel/motel tax rebates for the $38 million We Compete SportsPlex at Pavilion Park that is planned for a portion of Spencer's property, West Des Moines Community and Economic Development Director Clyde Evans said.
Spencer said We Compete is still interested in building at the site. It's little wonder, given that the interchange will route travelers right past the property if they are headed south from the interstate, possibly on their way to nearby Jordan Creek Town Center.
The mall area is nearing the build-out and occupancy of available retail and other commercial spaces, and Spencer sees that growth to capacity as a good thing for Pavilion Park.
"Once people see that the interchange is under construction and once it's done, that's when we'll see a lot of things happening out there," he said.
For now, Spencer is hearing from a range of developers who are interested in building multifamily projects, hotels, restaurants and other retail uses.
"The thing about the piece out there is 'let's get this interchange in and get things happening,' " he said. "I've been disappointed in how long it has taken. Everybody wants to get it done; it's not for lack of trying on anybody's part. Without it, it has stopped a lot of economic development and job creation."
As he waits, Spencer has plenty to keep him busy, with another 500 development acres scattered in Adel, Waukee, Altoona and Pleasant Hill.
"We're still very cautious about how we approach our developments," he said. "We've have it broken into commercial ground and some residential."
Spencer believes Adel could be the sleeper city. He is developing the Bailey's Grove residential community in that town and said that more than 50 percent of the 82 lots recently platted have sold.
"Adel is a diamond in the rough," he said. "It's close enough to major shopping and entertainment. I can get to my office in Grimes in 22 or 23 minutes, and I can get to the Jordan Creek Parkway exit in 18 minutes."
He said the city is courting a hotel developer, and there is a need for additional retail, especially restaurants.
Spencer isn't letting his attention stray from Pavilion Park.
"We feel very good about it," he said. "We've always said we believe that if it's not the best piece of commercial ground in the area, it's one of the top two or three."