The City of Johnston continues to move forward on the Johnston Town Center Project. As the City prepares to review proposals from developers, the process of acquiring property and preparing the property for development is proceeding.
The acquisition of several new pieces of property is currently in progress. The sites are expected to be added to list of aggregated properties in the Town Center area. This includes properties at 5505 NW 62nd Avenue,5600 NW 63rd Place and 5605 NW 62nd Avenue. As illustrated above, this “super block” will soon be ready for redevelopment.
The City of Johnston will move the project along one step further as they are expected be engaged in the demolition of several properties. With these actions, developers can see tangible evidence that the City is ready for the next steps. Stay tuned for continued updates on the Town Center project.
RFQ Deadline For Johnston Town Center Extended
The Johnston City Council has extended the deadline for responses to the Johnston Town Center RFQ to 1 PM on Friday, June 15th.
This extension is partially related to action in the Iowa legislature regarding the authority of cities to develop projects using a lease purchase financing mechanism. Legislation awaiting the Governor’s signature would clarify the authority to use this method for projects such as the Town Center. If enacted, the City of Johnston’s Town Center project and the proposed Lease-Purchase arrangement for a City Hall could proceed. The City may also simply wished to provide developers with more time to respond. Developers are encouraged to take advantage of the extension for preparing a response to the RFQ.
Land Acquisition Update: The City of Johnston has acquired or received signed purchase agreements for all properties within the 18.5-acre Town Center area apart from 5707 & 5645 NW 62nd Ave. and 5630, 5626 and 5650 NW 63rd PL.
Lease-Purchase Note: With the lease-purchase financing model the developer’s financial commitment for construction of a new City Hall would conclude upon satisfactory completion of the building. The developer would not be required to retain ownership.
For more information contact the City of Johnston Economic Development Department at 515-727-7774 or email Adam Plagge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Johnston City Council recently considered and approved the site plan for the project titled Dental Studios of Iowa. Updated documents include a preliminary floor plan for the new facility. Watch for more information about West Park!
The Johnston City Council has approved a zoning change that will facilitate a new housing development on NW 62nd Ave. east of Merle Hay Road.
The rezoning changes the property from R-1(75), Single Family Residential Zoning District, to R-1(60), Single Family Residential with restrictions. The property address for the area is 5100 NW 62nd Avenue.
During the review process consideration was given to concerns about the initial plans to include two roadway access points from the development to NW 62nd Avenue. While the exact platting was not the subject of the Council’s action – the developer advanced a plat concept that would address those concerns. The third and final reading of the zoning change was approved at the Council meeting on February 20, 2018
The City of Johnston may be joining other Polk County communities in requesting a special election on March 6, 2018 for a Local Option Sales and Services Tax (LOSST). A sales tax election may be initiated by motions from the governing bodies of communities which collectively represent at least 50% of the population of the county. A simple majority of the voters in the combined contiguous cities must approve the tax before any of the cities can collect it.
At their work session on December 4, the Johnston City Council discussed the issue, the required timelines and possible ballot language. The deadline to submit a resolution to request a March 6, 2018 special election is December 12, 2017. The council will discuss the language at a meeting on December 12th and if there is agreement on the language, a separate resolution adopting the ballot language could be included in the December 18 City Council meeting agenda. The Council has reviewed ballot language that was used by several communities in the successful Sales Tax vote in Dallas County held on November 7, 2017.
Several Polk County communities are have already approved petitions to conduct an election.
- Ankeny – approved a resolution at their December 4th meeting
- Clive – will conduct a special meeting on December 11th to consider a resolution
- Des Moines – approved a resolution at their December 4th meeting.
- Pleasant Hill – approved a resolution at their November 28th meeting.
- Urbandale – approved a resolution at their December 5th meeting.
- West Des Moines – approved a resolution at their November 27th meeting.
Based on information provided by the State of Iowa the estimated amount of annual sales tax funding (based on FY16 projections) for Johnston is $2,576,420 (3.19% of the total collections in Polk County). If 50% of the sales tax funding is used for property tax reduction, it would reduce the property tax levy by $1.02.
At their work session on December 4, 2017 the Johnston City Council began consideration of a plan for annexing areas north of the current City limits and along Saylorville Drive. The City has received an annexation petition from seven property owners representing approximately 537 acres. Property held by Camp Dodge would be included in the plan, along with property recently acquired by the U.S. Navy.
In the scenario presented in Figure 2, the proposed annexation would include all of the colored properties and be 100% voluntary, excluding government property which does not require consent. Download the complete staff report here.
City staff is expected to proceed with further study including infrastructure engineering, easement planning, environmental reviews, and an update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Infrastructure installation (sewer and water) will likely be deferred until a high-quality project has been identified. It is also expected that City development policies will be structured to encourage swift development through a combination of incentives such as utility connection fee escalators.
This is not a new or unexpected development. Since 1998, the area along Saylorville Drive to the north/east of Highway 141 has been identified as a future growth area for the City in the Johnston Comprehensive Plan. There are 714 developable acres in the area including Beaver Creek Golf Course and Hoyt Tree Farm. An additional 700 serviceable acres have been identified in the area north of Saylorville Dr, making about 1400 total acres potentially available for development.
A proposed development agreement for the Bricktowne housing development is being considered by the City of Johnston. The Bricktowne development is a 21 acre site on Merle Hay Road directly south of Johnson Brothers. The proposed project would consist of 408 apartment units, the majority of which being one bedroom units. Amenities include detached garages, a clubhouse, outdoor pool, activities building, dog park, pet station, nature trail and large central courtyard. The buildings would be 100% brick with a slate roof. Three colors of brick will be utilized to give the appearance of a rowhouse style development.
The proposed Development Agreement includes three areas of city participation.
The transfer of 15,805 sq. ft. of excess Right of Way. The Developer intends to use the property for a portion of their resident dog park and to complete a secondary access through their property.
A rebate of 70% of the Bricktowne property’s tax increment for five years conditioned upon several requirements including constructing a unique architectural facade, and meeting the construction timelines for each phase of the project – a minimum one building shall be completed each year for six years with the first complete by December 31st 2019.
A forgivable Loan in the amount of $30,000 to support the Developer’s acquisition and demolition of the two properties that were not part of the original land acquisition – 6411 and 6435 59th Court.
JEDCO has supported the use of these incentive to encourage a diversity of housing and to build population which will support further commercial development in the Merle Hay Road south corridor.
A proposal to subdivide about 10 acres of the Amber Ridge PUD into 42 townhome lots and one outlot for future commercial development has been submitted to the City Council for consideration. This property was the subject of a rezoning request that was approved in September, 2017 to allow townhome uses on the property.
The property is south of NW 62nd Avenue and west of NW 100th Street. View the staff report here.
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.
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.