The city of Ankeny has grown from 27,117 residents, according to the 2000 census, to 45,000 10 years later. With this increase in population, the city is also seeing new businesses develop, expand and employers add jobs.
The increase in population has also led to a marked increase in school enrollment in Ankeny. The district’s enrollment has increased an average of more than 300 students each year of the last decade, making Ankeny schools not only the eighth largest school district in Iowa, but one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state. In 2012 the total enrollment was 9,386 students.
With this growth, the district has opted to move to a two-feeder system, and this year that goal was fully realized with the opening of a second high school. The new facility was named Ankeny Centennial High School in reference to Ankeny’s 100th graduating class, which participated in commencement exercises just three months prior to opening of the school. This class was the last to graduate from a single high school district in Ankeny. In 2009 and 2010, students, faculty and the community participated in a process that resulted in the naming of the school and selection of a mascot and school colors. The school is represented by a jaguar and the colors silver and black with a maroon accent.
The district is one of only three districts in the Des Moines area to receive accreditation for its schools through AdvancEd. It’s also one of only 11 Iowa schools honored with placement on the 3rd Annual AP District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to Advanced Placement course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.
One of the biggest highlights in Ankeny’s economic development this year is the housing boom, according to Derek Lord, the city’s economic development director. Employees are interested in living where they work and want a community that is forward thinking when it comes to a great school district and quality of life projects.
“It’s strong in all sectors of our housing market right now,” Lord says. “Single-family homes are strong; multi-family town homes and villas and apartments are all continuing to be strong. We talk about diversified growth, and it speaks volumes to the amenities in Ankeny.”
Lord says housing growth has far exceeded last year’s numbers so far, and they expect that trend to continue. In the last several years, there have been 300 to 600 units built in Ankeny, but that number jumped to more than 1,000 in 2012.
Ankeny has followed the national trend when it comes to housing. The real estate climate is improving, and the city is seeing more investment in new properties and renovations of existing properties. Ankeny also continues to grow on all four sides of town, pushing north, south, east and west with new residential developments.
In 2011, Ankeny was named the fastest growing city in Iowa. It was also named one of the best 100 places to live by Money Magazine.
“We did a citizen survey, and the results showed that 94 percent of respondents thought Ankeny was a great place to live, work and raise their families and felt a real sense of community, which is significant when a large portion of the population hasn’t lived here that long,” says Deb Dyer, city communications officer.
A large number of new businesses have opened that offer vital services to new residents in the city. On the southeast side, development continues on the Delaware corridor. To the north, a new strip mall brought brand new businesses to Ankeny, including Dunkin Donuts, Little Caesar’s and Z’Marik’s Noodle Cafe. On the southwest side, several new medical clinics have opened, providing increased medical services to residents. That part of the city has also seen the addition of businesses in Prairie Trail, like Jethro’s BBQ Lakehouse, a new assisted living facility and more.
Dr. Mike Labounty recently relocated his chiropractic practice from nearby White Birch to Prairie Trail.
Labounty says that though Ankeny has made huge improvements with a lot of amenities in town, there are still some that need to be increased — like a larger or second post office and library. He thinks Prairie Trail will be the place to be when it comes time for increased development of those amenities.
Other new clinics in the area include Mercy Prairie Trail Family Medicine, Unity Point Family Medicine Internal Medicine Prairie Trail and the Iowa Clinic’s new $14 million clinic located on the corner of S.W. State Street and S.W. Oralabor Road.
Ankeny residents have also seen the addition of a couple of new stores that have provided greater options when it comes to shopping.
Mills Fleet Farm opened a 261,000-square-foot store and large adjacent lumberyard on S.E. Delaware. The store is filled with farm supplies, hunting gear, guns and ammunition, food, clothing, pet supplies, lumber, home goods and other items. Along with the retail center, Fleet Farm also includes a convenience store called Gas Mart and a four-bay car wash.
Mills Fleet Farm, based in Brainerd, Minn., is new to the Des Moines market. Its first and only other Iowa store was built in 2003 in Mason City. Overall, Fleet Farm operates 34 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Marketing Manager Paul Gilbert says the store has been well-received in Ankeny and surrounding areas.
“The people of Ankeny and the greater Des Moines area have just been wonderful,” he says. “It’s been a very positive experience for us, and we’re very happy.”
Hy-Vee will also open a second location in Prairie Trail on the corner of State Street and Oralabor Road. The 92,000-square-foot store will be “super-sized,” and be similar to the stores the company recently opened in Urbandale and Waukee. The store will open Sept. 24 and will include a full-service restaurant and bar serving wine and beer in the evenings; a food court featuring a sushi bar, wood-fired pizza, Chinese buffet, authentic gelato and Chef’s Creations take-home entrees; a Starbucks coffee outlet; a large HealthMarket offering natural and organic foods; a pharmacy with drive-up service; and specialty departments for wine and spirits, domestic and imported cheeses, bulk foods, fresh seafood, housewares, cosmetics and personal care products, pet supplies and more. A convenience store and fuel station also will be included as part of the project.
A bright future
With all the residential and commercial expansion going on in Ankeny, residents have more choices than ever in terms of housing, shopping and services. The city also plans several quality of life projects, including the Ankeny Market and Pavilion, a $1.5 million project featuring a 3.1-acre park with two pavilions, a restroom building, 108 parking spaces, bicycle trailheads and open space. Project leaders believe the trailhead will become Ankeny’s hub for bikers who want to access the High Trestle Trail.
With great spaces, homes, shopping, businesses and more, Ankeny’s economic future continues to look bright.