Merle Hay Road Redevelopment – Update

The center piece of the of north Merle Hay Road Redevelopment plan is the current site of City Hall and surrounding properties. One of the challenges of implementing a plan like this is the assembly of a critical mass of property to facilitate development. In the right circumstances it is appropriate for communities to purchase properties and aggregate them into parcels that can be resold to developers. This approach was used successfully by the City of Johnston on Merle Hay Road in recent years – leading to the development of the Cadence housing project.

Developers should take note that the City is approaching critical mass with the properties adjacent to the current City Hall. The City has acquired (or is in the process of acquiring) several properties on the northeast corner of NW 62nd Ave. & Merle Hay Road. Further progress was recently made when the City approved a purchase agreement for 6285 Merle Hay Road. Do you have a project that would be suitable for an important node in the Johnston community? For more information, contact Adam Plagge, Economic Development Manager for the City of Johnston.

Amber Ridge Housing Zoning – Updated

Zoning Change Approved





The Johnston City Council held a public hearing on June 19, 2017 concerning a proposed amendment to the Amber Ridge PUD zoning ordinance. The change would allow for R-4 high density residential housing in the area. The proposal was previously declined by the Johnston Planning & Zoning Commission. Notwithstanding the expressed concerns of some neighboring residents, the Council seemed satisfied with the required density, parking availability, and likely storm water management requirements. A motion to approve the zoning change on first reading was passed with the restriction that the development be limited to two story townhomes.

The change would would preserve the property immediately adjacent to NW 62nd Ave. for both retail and office uses. Forty-two town homes are planned for the south portion of the property. View the June 19, 2017 staff report, and the original staff report for more information.

MHR Redevelopment Plan Advances







The Johnston City Council and Planning & Zoning Commission met in joint session on May 22, 2017 to consider the input received about the various concept plans for the area. See the previous article for more information about the alternative plans.

In summary, based on the input received the “Town Center” concept was the overwhelming favorite. Those who provided input in the planning process also expressed a desire that the future development include restaurants and public space for the farmers market and other activities, and a trail connection. Commercial retail uses were also desired. Support for maintaining City Hall as an “anchor” for development was also mentioned.

The population in the market area (3 mile radius) is estimated to be almost 40,000, or about 15,000 households – 75% of which are owner occupied. Consultants shared data which suggests that the location would be attractive to retailers and other commercial interests including: average household income = $105,000; and 50% with a college degree.

The next phases of the planning process will include the development of design guidelines, cost estimates for infrastructure, property acquisition, and the construction of public amenities. In the future there may be a request for proposals for developing the site. It was noted that the development phases could cover a period of up to 15 years.

It is not too late to provide input about the plan. Send comments to Adam Plagge, Johnston Economic Development Manager.


New Daycare Facility Proposed








A 7,000 square foot daycare facility has been proposed for the intersection of NW 100th Street and NW 62nd Ave. The location is just south of the Casey’s General Store. Site plans for the facility were considered and approved by the Johnston Planning & Zoning Commission at their meeting on May 30, 2017. The site plan will now be advanced to the Johnston City Council for consideration.

Vintage Cooperatives – Update




The Johnston City Council granted final approval for 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.

Other residential projects for the area have previously been considered. Three things 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.

View the updated Ordinate and Preliminary Plat for the project here.

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.


Plaza on 86th Plans Initiated








Steps toward rezoning the area on the SW portion of NW 54th Ave. and NW 86th Street are being taken by the Johnston City Council. A request to modify the zoning map for 5.5 acres to allow Community Retail Commercial district uses along with R-4, High Density Residential District uses was referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission by the Council at their meeting on October 3, 2016.

Learn more about this project from JEDCO member NAI Optimum.


Windsor Office Park Gains Momentum










UPDATEOn October 3, 2016 the Johnston City Council approved plans for the Dance Vision and Rainbow Rascals projects.

The Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission considered two new projects for Windsor Office Park at their meeting on September 26, 2016. One is a proposed child care facility presented under the name Rainbow Rascals Child Care. 814 Development LLC has proposed a 11,992 square foot child care facility with 17,241 square feet of outdoor playground area and a future 2,500 square foot retail building. The property is located on the northwest corner of Thomas Avenue and NW 86th Street.

The other project is a proposed 12,162 square foot dance studio presented under the title Dance Vision. The project was presented by Elsie John Properties, LLC and the site is located at 8711 Thomas Avenue in the Windsor Office Park

Taken together with the Premier Lending Alliance project advanced earlier in 2016, activity in the Windsor Office PUD has picked up noticeably. Both of the new projects were advanced by the Commission.

Recreation Amenities For Apartments

Recreational Activities

Update: 9.26.16 – The Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission heard a presentation on this report. City staff reported that feedback from developers thus far had been positive.

The Neighborhood Development Corporation has presented a report to the City of Johnston concerning the availability of outdoor recreational amenities for residents of apartments and townhomes. The impetus apparently stemmed from reports that such developments had a higher volume of calls for service to Johnston police. Of interest to developers is the discussion about future “recreational amenity requirements” for multi-residential developments in Section 4 of the report.

The report includes a case study of Sultan, Washington. The community of 4,700 residents has established minimum requirements to be set aside for recreation in a development. Developments are then required to establish certain types of amenities based on certain criteria. The report goes on to make recommendations for standards in Johnston (see section 4.4 of the report).

The full report is posted  here, and the report concludes by suggesting that it be used as the basis for a dialogue with stakeholders. Developers are encouraged to review the report, and to provide comments to Council members and staff.

Welcome Adam Plagge!


On behalf of the members of the Johnston Economic Development Corporation we wish to welcome Adam Plagge to the Johnston Community. At their meeting on Monday, August 1, 2016 the Johnston City Council approved the appointment of Adam to the position of Economic Development Manager.

Adam’s appointment represents the latest step forward by the City of Johnston to create a new economic development plan. JEDCO looks forward to working with Adam as he helps create the City economic development program of work including a business retention and expansion activity. Adam comes to Johnston via Fairfield, where he has most recently served as the Executive Director of the Fairfield Economic Development Association.