Nearly 6 acres of prime real estate that has sat unused on a busy section of Iowa Highway 163/East University Avenue in Pleasant Hill could soon see development activity. 

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission at its 5:30 p.m. meeting today is expected to hear plans for the construction of a Burger King fast-food restaurant on the east portion of 5401 E. University Ave. The parcel formerly was the home of a water park that closed in 2005. 

“What we’re hearing from residents is that they want more restaurants – anything from fast food to fast casual,” said Madeline Sturms, Pleasant Hill’s community development director. “What it really does for us is signify that there is interest from a national chain in our market.

“We hope once [Burger King] is up and running the rest of the area can be developed quickly.”

Developer Jake Christensen bought the 5.8-acre tract in early 2018 for $1.9 million, records from the Polk County Assessor’s Office show. He worked with the city to clear the land of the water slides that were in disrepair and remove the miniature golf course and concrete go-kart racetrack and wave pool.

Christensen said he is working to get tenants for a commercial center that would be located west of the proposed Burger King.

Originally, plans called for a multifamily structure to be constructed on a portion of the site, but the Iowa Finance Authority did not award tax credits to the firm hoping to build the housing.

The parcel will include an area north of the proposed Burger King for stormwater retention, plans submitted to the city show.

The 2,977-square-foot Burger King, which would be located across East University from McDonalds, would have two drive-thru lanes, indoor seating for 42, and 37 parking spaces.

The commission meets at 5:30 p.m. today at the Pleasant Hill City Hall, 5160 Maple Drive.