West Des Moines and Clive plan to create a redevelopment plan for about 650 acres along University Avenue.Google map



Twenty years ago, the area surrounding University Avenue in West Des Moines and Clive was among Iowa’s strongest retail and office corridors.

Toys R Us and Babies R Us were located there. So was Borders Bookstore and Sports Authority. A mostly leased Valley West Mall bustled with activity.

Today, Valley West Mall is without one anchor and likely will lose another. Buildings that once housed larger retailers sit vacant.

"It’s time for us to do a major effort of figuring out how we might repurpose some of the space," said Clyde Evans, West Des Moines’ community and economic development director. "We need to answer questions like ‘Are we too overly retail in the area?’ Some of the office space has some age on it. What are things we can do to encourage redevelopment of some of that property or get some face-lifts or upgrades?"

West Des Moines and Clive officials are working to create a redevelopment plan for the roughly 650-acre area located between University Avenue and Interstate Highway 235 and 22nd Street/Northwest 86th Street and Interstate 35/80.

Redeveloping the area, which officials estimate will take between 10 and 20 years to complete, could increase property and sales tax revenue for the cities, help ease traffic congestion and spark development of multifamily residences or uses not currently found in the area.

The cities have asked for requests for proposals from 34 companies nationwide that specialize in land planning. The deadline for submittals is Oct. 2; selected firms are scheduled to give presentations in mid-October. A contract will be awarded in December.

The redevelopment plan is expected to include an economic analysis of how much retail and office space the area can support, whether there’s opportunities for multifamily housing, and ways to improve transportation. In addition, a plan will include suggestions on better stormwater retention management.

The budget for developing a redevelopment plan is $350,000.

Jordan Creek Town Center, a regional shopping area that opened in 2004 in the Dallas County portion of West Des Moines, "is having some impact on the University Avenue corridor," said Doug Ollendike, Clive’s community development director. University Park Shopping Center at 8801 University Ave. has numerous empty spaces, including where Toys R Us had been located.

"It’s been a revolving door of [tenants], especially in the last five or so years," Ollendike said. "So that is definitely a concern of the city."

Evans said the area’s largest landowners have been notified about the request to develop a new plan for the area. He said all are eager to hear ideas of ways to make improvements to properties or redevelop them.

"We’re all very excited about the possibilities," Evans said.