Welcome to the Johnston Economic Development Corporation

Johnston Economic Development Corporation
Our mission is to foster economic growth and opportunity in the Johnston community and in the Greater Des Moines region.

Featured Property

5055 Merle Hay Road Portfolio

5055 MHR Gateway

Knapp Properties has a redevelopment opportunity available in the heart of the Merle Hay Gateway Redevelopment District in Johnston. This development property has visibility from I-80/35 with access at a lighted intersection on Merle Hay Road. Click here to view a print brochure to learn more this redevelopment opportunity. Contact Ben Garrett at ben.garrett@knappproperties.com.

Gateway Video

 Click here to view a short video which shows the potential future development of the gateway area.

MHR Redevelopment Concepts – Input Desired – Updated






The City of Johnston continues to seek input about new plans for the area of NW 62nd Avenue and Merle Hay Road. Tentatively called “Johnston Town Center” — this area has the exciting potential to host retail, office space, restaurants and residential growth. It’s also connected to Johnston’s extensive 35-mile trail system. If you missed the April 18 public meeting at City Hall, you can still submit comments about the draft designs that were presented. View the information included in the comment card below and return the completed form to Adam Plagge, Johnston Economic Development Manager.

Many Johnston residents may feel that the City of Johnston does not have a central place or town center for residents to gather. Does this concept plan hit the mark? Other concepts being developed have a “Market” focus and a “Main Street” focus. Approximately 30 acres make up the entire project which includes the northeast and southwest corners of this intersection. Review the March 30, 2107 staff report here.

Amber Ridge High Density Housing Declined





The Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission has declined to approve a proposed amendment to the Amber Ridge PUD zoning ordinance which would have allowed for a change from Professional Commerce (PC) and Community Retail (C2) to R-4 high density residential housing.

The proposed change would have preserved the property immediately adjacent to NW 62nd Ave. for both retail and office uses. Forty-two town homes were proposed for the south portion of the property. View the staff report for more information.

Beaver Driver Warehouse Proposed








A 4,500 square foot warehouse has been proposed on NW 55th Ave. by the Frampton family. The site currently includes another warehouse building on the northern boundary of the site. The Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission approved the site plan, which now advances to the City Council for action. View the staff report for more information.


Vintage Cooperatives – A New Option For Johnston





The Johnston Planning & Zoning Commission has taken action to approve a request to amend the Comprehensive Plan for land use and the official zoning map in Windsor Office Park to permit the development of medium and higher density residential units in the northwest section of the area. The development – proposed by Ewing Land Development Services – would create a new senior residential cooperative as well as bi-attached residences or townhomes.

Other residential projects for the area have previously been considered. Three things seem to distinguish this project proposal from its predecessors.

  1. The project plans for lower density bi-attached or town home units adjacent to the residences located to the west – apparently providing for a more acceptable integration with the neighborhood.
  2. The project places the higher density senior living facility to the eastern portion of the project – bounded by NW 90th street. The eastern portion of Windsor Office Park would remain unchanged with on focus on commercial uses.
  3. The project is structured as a cooperative – meaning that residents would purchase shares in the development in lieu of purchasing the properties directly. The concept has been used with success in other areas of the greater Des Moines region.

The proposal now advances to the Johnston City Council for further consideration.

New Interchange Comments Requested

The Iowa DOT held a public meeting on Thursday, March 9 at the Giovannetti Community Shelter in Urbandale to receive comments about the design of the proposed new interchange at I80/35 and HWY 141. Iowa DOT Staff, and JEDCO member HR Green were present to discuss the proposed improvements in Polk County. You can view simulation videos here.

Pictured above is DOT official Scott Dockstader visiting with a participant in the meeting.The public meeting had an open format allowing the public and Iowa DOT staff to discuss the project informally. Click here for more information. Comments are being accepted through March 20, 2017.

Annual Development Forum

Forum Audiance2

Thursday, March 30, 2017 – 3:30 – 5:30 PM

JEDCO Update
City of Johnston Update
Brent Willett – Cultivation Corridor
Bethany Wilcoxon – Capital Crossroads

Formal Presentations – 3:30 –  5:30 PM
Networking Reception to Follow

Meet Our Keynote Speakers

Brent Willett
Cultivation Corridor


Brent Willett, CEcD is Executive Director of the Cultivation Corridor, a public-private regional economic development and innovation acceleration organization focused on growing Central Iowa’s agriculture and bioscience sectors, and attracting investment, jobs and talent to the state.

Prior to his role at the Cultivation Corridor, Willett served as President & CEO of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation, a regional economic development group in North Central Iowa headquartered in Mason City, Iowa.  Preceding his role at the North Iowa Corridor, Willett was Executive Director of the Fairfield Economic Development Association and Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce in Fairfield, Iowa.

Willett currently serves on the Leadership Iowa Board of Governors; Iowa Chamber Alliance Board of Directors; Iowa State University CIRAS Advisory Board; University of Northern Iowa Institute for Decision Making Advisory Board; and in advisory positions with several organizations.

A native of Davenport, Iowa, Willett, his wife Emily and their daughter live in Ankeny, Iowa.

Bethany Wilcoxon
Capital Crossroads

Bethany038 (002)

As Capital Crossroads Director, Bethany Wilcoxon oversees implementation of the regional vision strategy. She spent several years serving Iowa Great Places, a grant program of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and then leading the development of The Tomorrow Plan, a $3.1 million regional initiative to advance sustainability in Greater Des Moines.  Her accomplishments include the Business Record’s Forty Under 40 (2016), Leadership Iowa (Class of 2015-2016), Global Shapers Des Moines Founding Curator (2015), ISU STATEment Maker (2012), Next American Vanguard (2010), and Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute (Class of 2011-2012).

Outside of her professional work, Bethany serves on the Great Outdoors Foundation Board and the Jester Park Nature Center Capital Campaign Team, and is the US Green Building Council ADVANCE Ambassador for the State of Iowa. She has led Des Moines’ Urban Ambassadors as President, served on the Board of the Drake Neighborhood Association, and has volunteered for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (2014 Woman of the Year Candidate), Big Brothers Big Sisters, ULI Iowa, the Des Moines Symphony, and the Des Moines Metro Opera.

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Proposed Bricktowne Apartment Complex

At their work session on February 21st Johnston City Council members expressed support for a request for TIF assistance for the development of 384 one and two bedroom apartments at 6454 Merle Hay Road and adjacent properties in Johnston.The location is generally south of the Johnson Brothers facility. The development includes five three-story brick apartment complexes to be developed over the next six years. The first phase would be completed in December of 2018.

The price range for the apartments is expected to be between $850 -$1050 and would target young professionals. Based on a projected assessed value of $42.6 million, a TIF rebate of up to $2.6 million could be provided to the developer over five years. The next step in the process will be for the City to consider rezoning the NW section of the property from M1 to ROC-2. For more information about this project, download the staff report here.

A New View of the Gateway

At the JEDCO Annual Meeting, Adam Plagge, the City of Johnston Economic Development Manager, presented new videos which provide a closer look at the Merle Hay Road Gateway area. The first video model shows a look at the gateway area from the Interstate. This video show how planned tree clearing and landscaping could open up visibility to the site. The second video takes a closer look as you enter the Gateway area on Merle Hay Road north of I-35/80. This is another great tool to help prospective developers envision the future look of the area.
Click here to view the video model showing the view from I-35/80

Click here to view the video model showing the entrance to the Gateway area.

State of the City

On Thursday, January 26th the Johnston Chamber of Commerce held their Annual State of the City Luncheon at Hilton Garden Inn. The luncheon included updates from the Johnston Community School District, The City of Johnston and JEDCO. Phil Dunshee the Executive Director of Johnston Economic Development Corporation provided a recap of activities in 2016 and insights about development to come in 2017. In addition he included insights about development opinions expressed in the Community Needs Assessment report recently published by Johnston Community Education and the Johnston Partnership. Phil ended his presentation by encouraging all parties in the room to work together, find solutions, have mutual respect and trust, have integrity, work as a team, be involved and engaged and work for the mutual benefit of one another. To view JEDCO’s presentation from the State of the City luncheon, visit the resources section of the Grow Johnston Web Site.    

JEDCO Board Tours Cadence



On January 17th the JEDCO Board of Directors ventured out from their normal meeting location at the JEDCO office and visited the new Cadence Apartments. The Cadence Apartments are an urban-style Hubbell Realty project located on the North end of Merle Hay Road in Johnston. Board members had the opportunity to tour the new facility and view the variety of floors plans and amenities Cadence has to offer. Cadence is currently leasing one, two and three-bedroom apartments. Click here for more information about Cadence!