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Road to Growth

Posted October 17, 2012 in Grimes

Mayor Tom Armstrong says that as Grimes’ population increases, city leaders will continue to look at what funds are necessary to handle the expansion of services for residents.

The city of Grimes has experienced substantial grown in the past decade, in both residential and commercial areas. In 2010, the city’s population was 8,246, increasing from 5,098 in 2000.

In the last 20 years, the population of Grimes has more than tripled. With an increasing population, city leaders have worked diligently to keep up to date on infrastructure and project needs for a growing community. Currently, there are plans in the works for updates to roads, recreational opportunities, storm water management and more. Though at times keeping up with growth has been challenging, city leaders say they’re proud of the work that’s been done and excited for what is yet to come.

Infrastructure updates
One of the most notable recent updates in Grimes was the expansion of Highway 44 through town. The project has alleviated traffic issues and created better flow through town. The city recently also completed a large sanitary trunk sewer main project on the east side of town that will handle the growth happening on the east and south ends of town.

Another project that will begin this spring is the renovation of S.E. Main Street, which will include a complete reconstruction and new utilities, sidewalks and lighting for the road from S.E. Second to S.E. Sixth Streets.

“This has been in the planning for years.However, it always seemed to get delayed due to more urgent needs,” says City Administrator Kelley Brown. “This will be part of a proposed $6 million bond issue that will be passed later this fall.”

The Governor’s District Alliance, a group that has formed to create a downtown development area with a greater identity, should see increased property values and sustained employment in this area.

“Southeast Main Street is part of what’s called Governor’s District, which has a long-term vision for the whole area in regards to aesthetics and what we’d like to see there,” says Mayor Tom Armstrong. “This will set the tone for how we would proceed with redevelopment of the rest of the area.”

In addition to the S.E. Main Street reconstruction, the city also has road improvement projects along S.E. 19th and is partnering with the cities of Johnston and Urbandale on the intersection of N.W. 100th and S.E. 37th Streets.

Also projected to start yet this fall is the Outfall Trunk sewer project needed to meet the capacity requirements in the eastern sewer extending from the Wastewater plant along Taylor Estates, as well as the water way improvements needed to increase the capacity of the creek for large storm events. In addition FEMA projects were completed this year from the $46,312 received from FEMA for damage caused by the floods of 2010.

The city hopes to start a complete renovation of S.E. Main Street in the spring of 2013.

The City of Grimes currently also has the aquifer storage recovery well project underway. This project, if successful, could provide the needed water storage to delay potential improvements to the water plant by three to five years.

The premise of this project is that the water plant can pump extra water into this well for storage during those times of year when water consumption is lower than the capacity of the plant. During times when the plant is at capacity, water can be pumped from the storage well to provide additional water into the system. Thus increasing the capacity of plant can be delayed. This also provides additional redundancy and additional source in the event that the supply from the wells is compromised for a short period of time.

“The city has been investing in infrastructure, and sometimes it’s fun and very visibile, like the Highway 44 project,” says Grimes Chamber and Economic Development Director Brian Buethe. “Even though it’s a nuisance when it’s going on, you see the end results. But now there have been a lot of behind the scenes things. We’re in the ‘unsexy’ year of infrastructure projects in Grimes, but it’s setting us up for good things in the future.”

Increased business expansion
Buethe says Grimes is setting itself up well for business expansion in the future as well. A number of new businesses have come to Grimes, and existing businesses are expanding.

One of the most notable current projects is the Fed Ex ground facility being built in the Grimes Industrial Park on the southwest side of town. Fed Ex will move from a 45,000 square-foot facility to one that is 186,000 square feet.

Another large company is also adding services in Grimes. MidAmerican Energy is putting in a new electrical substation at Highway 141.

“It’s millions of dollars in investment, and it will allow us to provide good reliable power for all the development that we see happening in that northern corridor in the foreseeable future,” says Buethe.

Other new busineses include a new dental clinic, Sky Zone, Back to Health Chiropractic, Spring Valley Wireless, Taco John’s, Cherry Berry, Cost Cutters and Pizza Hut Delivery, several of which are located in the new strip mall in front of the Super Wal-Mart.

The new retail building adjacent to the Grimes Super Walmart has brought several new businesses to town.

 “If you want to attract larger businesses, where they locate is dependent on the service industry to provide what they need for their employees,” Buethe says. “Let’s say you’re an Aviva. You have to have restaurants around so people can get out for lunch and get back to the office. We want to attract major employers, and a lot have taken a look at us and a concern they had was that there wasn’t enough service industry. We’re building on that now.”

Buethe says every new businesses or business expansion is different and represents something different to the community. The impact that business has varies. Larger businesses might have an impact by retaining hundreds of jobs in the community and creating new jobs and new taxable valuation, which helps support parks and trails and quality of life projects.

“But I don’t want to downplay the impact of a small business because it is so important to have a good quality of life,” Buethe says. “The insurance salesman who provides protection for a business or individuals or a restaurant that gives another choice in dining for people who live and visit Grimes…having those services in place will attract larger employers to the community.”

Residential growth
With the growth of its population, Grimes has also seen a steady increase in residential building projects. In fiscal year 2011, there were 98 single family permits valued at $13,735,402 and seven multi-family permits valued at $725,322. In fiscal year 2012, there were eight multi-family permits valued at $3,879,960 and 115 single family permits valued at $16,720,225.

Buethe says he’s been impressed that developers in Grimes were able to keep steadily building new homes, even during the recession.

“Building that many homes every year even during the recession is very good for our local economy since we have a lot of construction-based industry,” he says.

Currently new housing options have opened up a lot of possibilities for people interested in moving to Grimes or current residents seeking new housing.

“On the housing side of things, we have a lot of new housing going in this year,” Buethe says. “They’ll build probably 120 homes in Grimes this year, and in addition to that, we are seeing some multi-family development, which we haven’t seen in a while.”

Hubbell built a 120-unit apartment complex at 1000 S.E. 11th Street this year. The last 30-plex building is slated to be open soon. The building offers one-, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as a state-of-the-art theater room, business center, 24-hour fitness center, community clubhouse with a fireplace, outdoor splash pad and picnic grilling areas.

“As each one of the 30-plexes finished and received their certificate of occupancy, they were already 90 – 95 percent leased,” says Mayor Armstrong. “Of those last 30, 24 of them were already leased weeks before the building was slated to open, and they were hoping to have all 30 leased before it opened. The interesting thing is that of those individuals moving into those apartments, 90 – 95 percent of those people are new residents of Grimes.”

The increase in housing and residents has also led to school growth, with many of the schools in the Dallas Center-Grimes district at capacity. The district recently opened a new building, Meadows, which serves students in grades 8 – 9. Future considerations are the size of the high school, which will soon be at capacity as well.

The future
Armstrong says he believes that growth is inevitable. With Grimes situated where it is in the metro, city leaders expect to see future steady growth.

“With other growth issues comes water and waste water treatment issues,” he says. “As time goes on, we continue to look at what funds we need to handle expansion to those plants as the population increases and users increase.”

City leaders also have taken into consideration the value of Grimes’ “small town” community identity. Many residents say they choose to live here for the smaller size, smaller school district and ability to be connected to the community.

“We do enjoy our small town living mindset, but I think we’re also cognizant of the fact that we’re in a growing area, and as such what we can try to do is try to keep people engaged in regards to the community,” Armstrong says. “Our population will surely increase based on where we’re located, and with that we work to try to keep people engaged.”

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