Pleasant Hill is changing for the better. Businesses are opening, expanding and integrating themselves into the community, while residential areas continue to grow to accommodate the ever-increasing population.
Madeline Sturms, associate planner, and Ben Champ, assistant city manager, have been working hard to make certain the growth goes as smoothly as possible for current and future residents. A big part of that job over the last year has been overseeing the expansion of residential housing.
“We have several new subdivisions that have broken ground and will hopefully be ready for housing next year,” Sturms says.
Currently there are three main construction areas that will increase housing options in Pleasant Hill. The expansions of the Sunrise Pointe, Spring Creek Hills and Arbor Lake subdivisions will offer a variety of residential options. The three areas, though all within the city, are different in setting, location and price range.
“We’ve had an existing lot shortage, so this opens up a lot of possibilities for us,” Sturms says.
Sunrise Pointe is just one area already filled with the hustle and bustle of expansion. The development will feature entry- to mid-level housing, cost-wise, according to Sturms, and will offer approximately 80 new homes.
“That has been our most active subdivision,” Champ says. “ It is important for them to keep going and to continue hitting that price point.”
The Spring Creek Hills development is adding an additional cul de sac to the two already in existence. According to Sturms, many of the properties will back up to the creek, offering a wonderful view for the new homeowners.
“Those houses are a little bit on the higher end of homes,” she says.
This addition will add approximately 24 new houses to the subdivision. A map of the area can be found on the development site at www.kandvhomes.com.
Arbor Lake is currently in phase two of its expansion. The new constructions will all be near the lake, with many having waterfront property. Champ points out this particular area is a conservation subdivision, so that makes the area unique and desirable for some homeowners.
“It will be a really pretty setting,” Sturms says.
The woods, lake and wilderness will make the subdivision a great setting for anyone who enjoys the peace of country living but the convenience of being close to town. According to the Landmark Development Services website (www.landmarkds.com), the “plat will bring on 53 new single-family homes for development” in this subdivision.
There are other subdivisions in the works, according to Sturms. Though these additions have gone through the approval process, construction has yet to begin.
Champ says even with the increased need in subdivisions, there is still a shortage of developers. However, as the economy improves, the number of people with the opportunity to invest is starting to bounce back, which is why there has been a surge in residential construction.
With the population growing to an estimated 9,000 residents, the additional housing is going to bring in more than just options in subdivisions.
“I definitely see that Pleasant Hill will grow,” says Cathy Jensen, executive director of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce. “We have the people and the resources that can make it grow. It is to our benefit to grow.”
The last year has seen the addition of several new businesses, including Casey’s and Fareway.
“I think they’ve had a huge success,” Sturms says. “They are always busy.”
Pleasant Hill continues to see changes on the commercial front.
Accurate Hydraulics is currently under construction and is estimated to open in the fall. Hawkeye Lawn Care has also started construction to relocate its staff and equipment to Pleasant Hill. Dee Zee is building an 80,000-square-foot building to expand its current facilities and add to its distribution. Magellan Pipeline is also adding another tank and expanding its loading rack to allow for more efficient truck loading.
Though only a handful of jobs will be added as these companies expand and relocate, the fact that they are expanding within Pleasant Hill is exciting.
“Much bigger facilities will allow them to grow,” Champ says.
Growth benefits everyone in the area.
A handful of smaller businesses in the community, including two new options in fitness and an annuities and life insurance consulting firm.
“When companies do take a look at the community, they seem to really be happy with the direction that it is going and the quality of life initiatives that the City Council has been focused on and the infrastructure improvements that have taken place,” Champ says. “The city is just in a really good position right now.”
“We have a lot to offer,” Jensen says. “We have the interstate connection, a great community, our city resources are wonderful. We are a very welcoming community.”
Even so, there are things Jensen says the community does need to make life even more appealing to residents, including a city pool, more shopping and boutique options and a larger variety of restaurants. Though Altoona and Des Moines offer shopping opportunities nearby, many residents would like to shop closer to home.
“People who work and live here want to spend their money here,” she says. “We need more options.”
Along with business and housing improvements, residents will notice continued improvements to Doanes Park. Last year saw the creation of additional parking, the replacement of three tennis courts and the installation of a basketball court and additional restroom facilities. New playground equipment is set to be installed to help increase community living in the area.
The city is in the process of starting a new comprehensive plan that will involve the Planning and Zoning Commission, Park and Recreation Committee and City Council.
“It will re-look at everything within the community and how we’re growing, where infrastructure needs to be and what the uses are that the community desires,” Champ says. “Along with that, there will be a Park and Rec trail master plan.”
He says there will an attempt to do parkland acquisition on the east side of town to coincide with the expanding subdivisions and housing developments.
The city also continues to work with Eastern Polk Regional Development Inc. to help Pleasant Hill tie into surrounding communities and continue partnerships in the area.
Other signs of economic and growth in the area is the interest in expanding events into Pleasant Hill by committees such as The Des Moines Metro Art Alliance. The first Jazz in July held on the East Side was held at Copper Creek Lake Park just a few weeks ago.
“We were able to show off Pleasant Hill really well,” Jensen says. “We had a good turnout, and the park was full.”
Champ says he expects to see continued growth and interest in Pleasant Hill as the economy improves and the metro area continues to expand.
“It’s been a good year,” Champ says. “Next year looks even better.”