A real estate broker who is working with the city of Pleasant Hill to spur additional commercial development says his efforts are begining to bear fruit. 

Approximately 3 million square feet of commercial projects are currently in the pipeline for development in the city, said Mike Macri, a broker with Ferguson Commercial Real Estate Services LC. The city of Pleasant Hill hired Macri in June 2012  to market the city’s development properties. 

Looking at Pleasant Hill’s demographics, “I realized really quickly that there is a huge demand for commercial services in Pleasant Hill that had been completely overlooked for years,” Macri said. “We’re working now to get developers and projects in place that can accommodate these users who want to be in the area.”

Macri said he could not divulge any business names because the projects are still confidential, but that they run the gamut from office and medical spaces to entertainment, restaurant and hotel properties and include warehouse projects and senior housing. 

“Those projects are in various stages, some very early, some getting close to announcement,” he said. 

Retail sales totaled approximately $5.5 million last year in Pleasant Hill, up an aggregate 38 percent since 2007, according to Iowa Department of Revenue figures. The city was among just four Greater Des Moines communities that experienced per capita growth in sales during that period. From 2007 to 2012, the city’s population has grown to more than 9,000 residents, a 16 percent increase. 

In 2006, RDG Planning & Design conducted a comprehensive study of the Highway 163 Corridor that bisects the city from east to west. Among its findings, the report said although national retailers have tended to favor Altoona because of its better interstate access, there is a “considerable supply” of retail space in Pleasant Hill, above what would be expected based on its population alone. 

Also according to the report, the city’s population and income growth “could create niche opportunities for lifestyle-oriented retail development, including restaurants and entertainment, along with community services, in a walkable, unique destination environment.” 

Macri noted that Pleasant Hill is situated in such a way that it creates a “fourth trade area” for retailers that are already located at Jordan Creek Town Center, the northwest suburbs and Ankeny. “If you locate in Pleasant Hill, you can put four stores in the metro and not cannibalize your sales in any of those areas,” he said. “So for a business that wants to expand to another location in the metro, it’s a great place.”  

Pleasant Hill’s new mayor, Sara Kurovski, said she feels the city has made “tremendous progress” since the corridor report was released. “The public doesn’t get to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on,” she said. “Mike Macri and the city staff have done a fabulous job working with developers. They’ve done an excellent job of raising our profile. Also, I think it works to our advantage having Altoona next door to us,” she said. “I think it really helps everyone hone in one achievable goal for eastern Polk County.” 

Kurovski said the city’s easy accessibility via the U.S. Highway 65 bypass is a very appealing aspect for commercial development that was highlighted by the study. 

“And real estate agents have begun to realize that the drive into downtown Des Moines is only 10 minutes,” she said. “That’s really nice.”

Pleasant Hill by the numbers

6% - Annualized yearly growth in retail sales revenues 

16% - Population increase from 2007-2012

49% - Commercial share of Pleasant Hill’s total property valuation in FY2012

43% - Commercial share of Pleasant Hill’s total property valuation in FY2007