Planning for a new $250 million development in Grimes was accelerating last spring when the pandemic shut down the nation – and Iowa.

For several weeks, discussions about the 200-acre-plus Hope District paused while people associated with the development assessed the pandemic’s effect on the proposed project, Mayor Scott Mikkelsen said. 

By mid-May, discussions were again underway.

The centerpiece of Hope District will be a 50-acre multiuse sports complex with all-weather turf on all of its playing fields. Grimesplex, which is expected to open by fall 2021, will be the “largest turf sports tourism venue in the Midwest,” Grimes Chamber and Economic Development wrote in a news release about the project, located west of Iowa Highway 141 and north of East First Street. 

Youth athletic tournaments, which typically attract teams from several surrounding states, have continued to be held during the pandemic, Mikkelsen said.

“Everybody was pretty comfortable that [the virus] wouldn’t impact what we’re doing here,” he said. “Even though we all took a pause -- even the developer -- we all talked about it and said, ‘Yeah, this makes sense.’ ”

In late October, the Grimes City Council unanimously approved a development agreement with Hope Development and Realty LLC. It also approved a request to change the zoning within the development area to allow the construction of hotels, restaurants, retail and destination entertainment venues. Also planned are single-family houses and townhomes. Much of the area was originally zoned for residential uses.

The agreement calls for Hope Development to install infrastructure in the development and develop the sports complex, which will be privately owned but managed by the city. The Grimesplex will include more than 70 soccer fields of varying sizes, up to 26 baseball and softball fields, and 13 football fields. It also will include lighted fields, concessions, restroom facilities, areas for food trucks and vendors, and parking for about 1,000 vehicles.

The complex will be turned over to the city by 2030. 

In return, the city will provide up to $25 million in tax increment finance rebates to Hope Development over a 15-year period.

Much of the land west of Highway 141 and north of East First Street is undeveloped. That is expected to change beginning this fall when construction begins on four projects that will be located immediately west of the highway. 
The projects include a new Hy-Vee grocery store at 351 N.E. Gateway Drive that is described as a flagship for the West Des Moines-based retailer; a Hy-Vee Fast & Fresh at 1401 E. First St.; a Culver’s restaurant at 1601 E. First St.; and a branch for Dubuque-based Dupaco Community Credit Union at 1701 E. First St.

The developments are occurring on more than 20 acres that Hy-Vee bought from Hope K Farms LLC in 2018. Hope K Farms is managed by Reza Kargarzadeh, who owns Hope Development & Realty and who is president and CEO of Engineered Plastic Components Inc.

Hope District is planned west and north of the new Hy-Vee.

Kargarzadeh bought the more than 200 acres of farm ground in 2017 and 2018, said Tim Day, director of real estate services for Hope Development & Realty.
 
Discussions on what to develop on the ground began almost immediately.

“We started working with the city to create a new kind of commercial area, so to speak,” Day said. “We started engaging more people in the conversation, and this sports concept idea began to emerge.”

Day said he and others visited sports complexes in the Midwest “and when we got back together, we said, ‘Let’s create one that’s a little bit bigger.’ 

One thing led to another, and here we are today,” he said.

The complex, once it is fully developed, is expected to attract more than 1.5 million visitors annually, Day and others said.

“That’s consistent with the kind of tourism sports complexes draw in the Kansas City area,” said Jake Anderson, Grimes’ city administrator. 

A variety of retail and other services will be needed to support the visitors as well as Grimes residents, Day said. Included among the likely services is a medical campus with dental, physical therapy and doctor’s offices, he said. Hope Development has also begun talking with local restaurant owners as well as national chains as well as a big-box sporting goods store, he said. 



Also planned are one or more hotels. Day acknowledged that it may take a while before operators are comfortable opening new hotels, one of the sectors hit hardest by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Still, he said, the pandemic “doesn’t seem to have affected sports-related travel. The kiddos are still playing and traveling to tournaments.”

Mikkelsen, Grimes’s mayor who has children involved in traveling athletic teams, said a growing number of tournaments recommend or require teams to stay in certain hotels, which in turn offer competitive room rates.

“If I owned a hotel and was thinking about any type of expansion, we think this [area] would be on an operator’s radar because you’ve got some guaranteed room bookings,” Mikkelsen said. “By the time someone is ready to build a hotel here, COVID hopefully will be behind us and won’t be impacting that type of development.”

 

MAP: A proposed $250 million mixed-use development in Grimes is expected to include hotels, restaurants, retail and a multi-use sports tournament venue that would open in fall 2021. The sports venue would include fields for soccer, baseball, softball and football. The development, called Hope District, is proposed for 200 acres northwest of Iowa Highway 141 and East First Street. Site map courtesy of Hope Development & Realty

 

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