RFQ Released For Johnston Town Center

Attention Developers and Investors. The City of Johnston has formally posted a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) relating to the Johnston Town Center Project. This project is a primary focus of development for the community, and the City of Johnston is seeking qualified partners to develop the area located at the intersection of Merle Hay Road and NW 62nd Ave. Interested parties are asked to respond no later than NOON on Monday, May 7, 2018.

In conjunction with the release of this RFQ, the City has modified its TIF policy to provide additional benefits for projects in the Town Center and Merle Hay Road Gateway areas.  Specifically, projects will be considered for funding up to the equivalent of 75% of the segregated incremental property taxes for up to ten (10) years. The city will also consider mutually beneficial infrastructure improvements for which the incurred costs may be discounted against other TIF funding.

This location is a primary node of traffic and activity in the community, and several high quality multi-family housing projects have recently opened in the vicinity (Cadence and 62W). A Community Survey conducted in 2015 revealed that 79% of respondents wanted the City of Johnston to put an emphasis on bringing additional retail and restaurants to Johnston.

A market study was conducted, and a plan has been developed to transform the area surrounding City Hall into a Town Center for retail, dining and other mixed use. Design guidelines have been developed, and the City of Johnston has been working to acquire properties for the project. It is expected that in 2018 the City will take steps to make this “super block” ready for development.

Developers and investors are needed to help fulfill the vision expressed in these initial plans. For more information contact the City of Johnston Economic Development Department at 515-727-7774 or email Adam Plagge at aplagge@cityofjohnston.com.

Click here to review the Summary Report, Market Study and Design Guidelines.

Click here to view the full RFQ.

Successful 2018 Development Forum

Johnston Economic Development holds three major events each year. These events are a great way for the JEDCO Membership, as well as other development focused individuals in the Greater Des Moines region to learn more about development activity in the Johnston Community.

The Annual Development Forum held each spring is our largest event of the year. The event typically includes keynote speakers as well as an update from the City of Johnston. The keynote speakers provide attendees with an opportunity to hear from professionals who can provide a regional or state perspective on a given topic. This year the keynote speakers included Michael Ralston, President of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and Bart Baudler, the Commercial Unit Lead for the North & West United States for Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™.

Both keynote speakers as well as the City of Johnston presented a wealth of valuable information during the formal presentations. The event closed with a networking reception.

Click here to review the full presentation from the Development Forum.

NW Saylorville Drive Expansion

The City Council had initiated a review of the 1,515 acre NW Saylorville Drive Expansion annexation proposal at their February 6th, 2018 meeting and had referred the proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission for their review. On Monday, March 12th the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the NW Saylorville Drive Expansion Annexation.

The planning and Zoning Commission approved the following zoning districts with the plan.

  1. 849.18 acres plus adjoining right-of-way to the centerline from un-incorporated to GF, Government Facility Zoning District.
  2. 524.77 acres plus adjoining right-of-way to the centerline from un-incorporated to A-R, Agriculture Reserve Zoning District.
  3. 6.26 acres at the southwest corner of NW Saylorville Drive and NW 110th Court plus adjoining right-of-way to the centerline from un-incorporated to C-3*, Highway Service Commercial Zoning District with restrictions. This zoning district is to be subject to the execution of a development agreement which prohibits the use of the property for adult entertainment businesses.

Following Council consideration in May, the proposed annexation will begin the State’s City Development Board Review Process which is expected to take several months. If successfully annexed, the City of Johnston anticipates reviewing Johnston’s Future Land Use Map for the area and amending the Comprehensive Plan.

Town Center Acquisitions

The City Council continues efforts to aggregate property for the Town Center project. A resolution to purchase the property at 6275 Merle Hay Road has been approved. Public hearings relating to the possible acquisition of properties at 5707 NW 62nd Ave., and 5550 NW 63rd Pl. are scheduled for April 2, 2018. Learn more about the Town Center project at the upcoming Development Forum!

Vintage Cooperative Senior Living

Progress on the Vintage Cooperative Senior Living facility on Windsor Parkway in Johnston continues. When finished the facility will offer 47 units. Currently the building is over 70% sold out! The project is expected to be complete in late fall of 2018.

Click here to learn more.

Johnston Broadband Survey

Broadband connectivity is important to future development in the Johnston Community. It is vital to offer quality internet service to those interested in opening a business in the community. Please take a moment to provide us with feedback regarding your current satisfaction with your internet connectivity.

Take the Broadband Survey.

Annual Development Forum

March 29, 2018
3:30 PM – 5:30 PM
DuPont Pioneer Carver Center

JEDCO Update – City of Johnston Update – Keynote Speaker 
Formal Presentations from 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Followed by Networking

Keynote Speaker
Michael Ralston

Michael Ralston is President of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa’s oldest and largest statewide business organization. ABI works to improve Iowa by making Iowa businesses more successful.

Mike is a former state tax commissioner and has background in corporate taxation, public policy, and management. He is a former mayor and congressional staffer and he holds a degree from the University of Northern Iowa, which recognized him as an Outstanding Alumnus in 1992.

RSVP Today!

New Housing Development for East NW 62nd Ave

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


One Cent Local Option Sales Tax Public Information Meeting

During a special election on Tuesday, March 6, Polk County residents will vote on a countywide referendum for a one-cent local option sales tax. Johnston could receive $2.5 million annually if it passes. Not less than 50 percent to be allocated for property tax relief, applied first to reduce the debt service levy before being applied to other levies and not more than 50 percent for capital improvement and quality of life projects. City staff will provide details on how these potential revenues would be used.

Date: February 26, 2018
Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Location: City Hall
Address: 6221 Merle Hay Road
Johnston, IA 50131

Click Here to Learn More: http://www.cityofjohnston.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=600


Right Workforce. Right Place. Right Time






There are many reasons to locate and grow a business in the City of Johnston. We’ve highlighted a few in the February 16 issue of the Business Record (see page 15). From an outstanding workforce to prime commercial real estate locations, Johnston is an ideal city to plant your roots and grow! To make the City even more attractive new upscale urban living options are now available in our suburban setting.

The Right Workforce
83% of employed residents with higher education
More than half with undergraduate or post graduate degrees.

Review the most recent Laborshed Analysis.

The Right Place
Prime commercial Interstate locations.
Merle Hay Gateway, Birchwood Crossing & West Park

The Right Time
Upscale urban living in a suburban setting
277 new units now available at Cadence and Residences at 62W

Local Option Sales Tax

The City of Johnston has joined other Polk County communities requesting a special election for a Local Option Sales and Service Tax. On December 18th the Johnston City Council approved Resolution 17-376 establishing the ballot language for the March 6, 2018 special election on the Local Option Sales and Service Tax. Other Polk County communities that have also approved petitions to conduct an election include Ankeny, Clive, Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale and West Des Moines.

Annual Report & Development Summary

The Annual Development Summary of the City of Johnston Community Development Department’s activities offers a summary of the development that occurred in 2017, and identifies trends we might expect into 2018 and beyond. Below are a few highlights from the report.

  • In 2017, $99,184,725 in total new valuation was permitted in the City of Johnston.
  • In 2017 the City of Johnston issued 14 new commercial permits with a valuation of $27,881,704 and 20 commercial remodel permits with an investment of $2,759,411. This ranks as the fifth best year!
  • Single family permit issuance in the City of Johnston in 2017 was down, but there were 155 new lots platted in 2017. This is more lots than any year since 2007! Single family residential should be strong in 2018!

Click here to review the full report.

Save the Date: JEDCO Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting new

 January 18, 2018 – 4:30 PM

Stoney Creek Hotel

Join us for the 2018 JEDCO Annual Meeting on January 18, 2018 at Stoney Creek Hotel. The Annual Meeting features JEDCO Updates, nominations of JEDCO Board Members and a networking reception. Please join us for an update on JEDCO activities in 2017 and to network with other JEDCO members and friends. We look forward to another great year in 2018!

RSVP to lgreenman@growjohnston.com or at 515-564-6547.

Progress Continues on Brio of Johnston

Brio of Johnston drone

 Construction continues for Brio of Johnston a WesleyLife Community which will be located near the corner of NW 86th Street and NW 70th Avenue at 6901 Peckham Street in Johnston. When complete the facility will include flexible financing for 54 independent living apartments, and room for residents in assisted living, memory support and in skilled nursing and long-term care.

The design of the facility will follow a modern farmhouse design using Iowa-grown and Iowa- manufactured products. The facility will also include amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, onsite physical therapy, walking paths, a healing garden and a pet play area. The facility is expected to open in the fall of 2018! Click here for more information.

Local Option Sales and Services Tax To Be Considered







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.

Johnston Council Begins North Area Annexation Review

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.

Figure 2

Bricktowne Development Agreement Considered

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.