Thank you very much for picking this up. I was very vocal at the meeting, and the CVS reps had all kinds of excuses regarding why they wouldn't, not couldn't, build on the corner. Like you said, these buildings are in very poor shape, and I am not opposed as a resident to the redevelopment. But the attitude and beginning remarks by our esteemed council person really set the tone: "This is the best option we have at this time". So wait, keep working. Thanks again, I think it's too late, but perhaps we can start a better conversation regarding this.
Would love to see a form-based overlay for 6th Avenue. Would love your thoughts on how to drag the City of Des Moines forward on such an idea! ;-)
Aaron... Why am I not surprised that you have already projected this game out ten moves. Remind me never to play chess with you.
In my mind, the best case scenario is a form-based overlay available for guiding redevelopment of pedestrian-oriented districts throughout the city... What do you see as the best option?
Thanks for highlighting this important next step, Steve. The rendering that you show in your post is included, as you mention, in the Council approved streetscape improvement concept plan. The technical assistance from the EPA will build upon this base. You are absolutely correct that the planned improvements at this specific node are mostly cosmetic, but do make changes that significantly improve the pedestrian experience. We are planning to pursue zoning and potentially other policy changes that will guide future (re)developments at this node to be more pedestrian-scaled and character-defining. However, the streetscape will significantly enhance other sections of the Corridor (College and 6th, as an example) and introduce an environment that truly is pedestrian-scaled and conducive to supporting current developments and encouraging appropriate redevelopment. The entire process is a balancing act. The QT and McDonalds are relatively new projects within the Corridor; if I would have been around during their construction, I would have wanted to see a different design. Right now, our efforts are focused further north to ensure that we do not lose any other character-defining buildings (such as the old North Des Moines City Hall). And, if we get the streetscape and other policy decisions right, the future will see an improved 6th and University intersection when redevelopment is determined to be financially lucrative.
Charles - I've followed the CVS development minimally and reached out to the City's urban designer to see if there is a way that this proposed project could be improved. However, the most convincing voices come from those directly impacted (you and your neighbors). I would suggest that you, your neighborhood association, and any other interested persons show up at every meeting that is held (is the project required to go through Plan and Zoning Commission?) on this project to express your concerns AND offer alternatives. Perhaps the Walgrees at Ingersoll and 35th is a good model. Make sure that the elected officials know your position and remind them often. Unfortunately, in the end, if the zoning allows CVS to build as planned, there is little that you can do but it would still be worth the effort to send a signal to others (aka future developers) as to the type of (re)development desired on Euclid. Those of us working on 6th Avenue are envious of your intact buildings along Euclid and stand with you to support their rehabilitation or more appropriate redevelopment.
Charles, thanks for reading! At the very least, that would be a great topic for a future post here.
To be quite honest, convincing box chains of any type to alter their property development formula is very difficult. The most successful instances are when the City supports (or is behind) the effort, and there are zoning regulations in place to provide "teeth" to the argument. In the absence of these, it is unlikely that neighbors will be able to exact much concession.
The City should be much more proactive about supporting redevelopment of its historic commercial areas with sensitive and pedestrian-compatible forms.
We sure could use someone like you assisting us up here in the Parks Area. As you may or may not know, CVS is planning a new box store to replace the buildings on the northwest corner and when I pushed to have it built on the corner with the parking lot behind it, they balked. The area is being sold short by many of those in power, who want to see a quick fix and really have no idea of the potential that this area holds. Sure wish you were involved in the area, I lack the knowledge you have but share in your love of a stronger DSM and especially the central city portions! Thank you
If I wasn't the organizer of a Black Friday craft fair, I'd participate in Buy Nothing Day, also. BUT if you want to get out of the house on BF, come down to Market Day anyhow. We won't make you buy anything, and we're very pleasant. :)
And happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks for reading, Aaron. I would look to groups of individual investors to "develop" individual projects for a more organic look and feel. 300 East Grand is not necessarily a model investment vehicle, but certainly an innovative building. On the other side (big developers), there is Hubbell working on Cityville... I fault the city to some degree. Perhaps there should be a form-based overlay zoning district in place for locations like Ingersoll.
I completely agree with your perspective on the new developments at the corner of Ingersoll and MLK. Higher densities that include housing will also serve as an increased market for the many businesses that are currently and could be in the future located along that district. They may have backed out, but Veridian has/had an option on the vacant land at the northeast corner of this intersection, yet another poor use of land for that site as it is likely to be a single-story development. This brings up another question... who is Des Moines' urban mixed-use, urban developer (of new construction)? Hatch does nearly exclusively residential (plus work-live units)... outside of the East village, it appears that the Neighborhood Development Corporation is the only player.
Thanks for reading - I appreciate feedback, but you will have to be more specific. I'm interested in your thoughts... What about the comparison is ridiculous? What, in your opinion, would be a more appropriate comparison?
Successful urban-ish pedestrian retail districts tend to have many elements in common. I think we pretty much know how to do it right in terms of overall form, mixed use, accessibility/connection, and location, (am I missing anything here?).
So, I return to the question... clearly, the idea is to promote development of Ingersoll as a pedestrian retail district. If so, what should we be shooting for in your opinion? How can the City and business association best encourage such development and best target political capital and financial resources to make that happen?
Comparing Ingersoll to Main Street in Ames is ridiculous! Grasping at straws.
I'm holding my official reaction to the greystones until they are finished, but I, too, have reservations concerning placement. I applaud efforts to increase density and urban housing options in Des Moines. But I would have preferred that these sites not be scattered throughout various neighborhoods and, instead, find ways to gain a critical mass of these on one or two blocks so that could be expanded over time, and eventually this type of development could become a distinct housing context of its own. I am excited that Hatch Development is willing to try new, interesting, and higher quality affordable housing options in Des Moines!
Excellent point... I haven't received very many phone calls yet, but that may help tip the scale in favor of early voting. On the other hand, there is something very satisfying about the democratic "community" surrounding the act of voting with millions of other people on the same day...
Thanks for reading!
Campaigns scratch you off the phone call list.
Great post. I agree about the name of Cityville! I hope a more timeless name comes about.
That Fleur Drive stop is what made change the way I travel - kind of sad too.
Yeah, not long ago, DART used to make a stop right next to the terminal. The same bus route still exists, but the stop is on Fleur Drive. Not very practical.
There are several key neighborhoods that are moving from distressed to desirable - Sherman Hill and Drake are two great examples. The City's NRP (Neighborhood Revitalization Program) does a good job of helping to reduce the effects of "gentrification" and turn it into true community development by building capacity from within the neighborhood rather than looking to oust current residents. That said, changing economics of desirable location and housing stock can shift the overall affordability of a neighborhood.
It's not an easy question to answer.
Thanks for writing this article! What neighborhoods are currently in a bohemian or gentrified stage in Des Moines?
And this is why I will not be leaving comments for the dm register online.
You might find this interesting: http://wdmjulia.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/what-ive-learned-from-the-barn/
Zoe, thanks for reading and commenting! I, too, have big concerns about Interstate speeding, particularly on I-235. It is dangerous and inconsiderate. My problem is utilizing the cameras as revenue generators rather than as tools to improve safety. The only way they can be effective at reducing speeding is if people know about them. Anyone who doesn't know about them will continue to speed until they receive a ticket.
Picture a big red sign saying "WATCH YOUR SPEED! Traffic laws photo enforced next 10 miles". This, in conjunction with the cameras would reduce speeding much more than "hidden" cameras because even people who didn't know that the cameras existed would likely comply.
Otherwise they are simply generating revenue from people who don't know about the cameras and continue to speed. That approach does not reduce speeding as much, but it does generate a lot of money for the City... I'm just saying the lack of signage leads me to believe income is the primary motivator.
I actually really support this. The speed limit on freeways is designed to keep people generally safe, and people speed down 235 going WAY over the limit. It's dangerous, and that is probably why there is an accident around 63rd nearly every week. I wish they could somehow catch people who are texting while on the freeway too.
Chris, thanks for reading and commenting. You bring up some valid points. I think I agree that combining the elections won't in and of itself create more engaged voters - the reasons voter turnout is so low are well beyond "scheduling conflict" and probably too complex for me to understand.
I do think that simply increasing the raw numbers is a big part of the solution, and perhaps the right way to break the cycle. I posit that children who see their parents vote are more likely to vote themselves. My children will grow up knowing how and where to vote because they go with me almost every time. It will not be a "mysterious" process to them. Granted, I also work hard to instill in them they belief that it is an important responsibility, but the simple act of being there does help.
It is more disturbing to me that people don't than the possibility that they may cast unconsidered votes. The act of getting to one's polling place is itself an act of engagement. Assuming the information were readily available (another big "if"), then it's a pretty easy jump for a voter to pick up a newspaper or do a Google search.
Having more voters will force candidates to work harder. A school board candidate, based on this election, could have won a seat by getting 3,334 votes. If it took 20,000 votes to win a seat, the candidate would have to work harder to get his or her message out across a more diverse electorate.
Does is it really solve the problem?
The problem is people not being engaged on the issues and the candidates. Simply throwing the school board election in with the general election won't cause individuals to educate themselves on the school board candidates. Will it?
IMO, one potentially harmful result is you'll simply have voters cherry picking school board candidates (like the do now for things like "county conservation board") at the ballot box just to complete their ballot. In other words, increasing the percentage of people who vote to simply increase the percentage, isn't really a helpful means to and end if the increased voters don't have any engagement as to who/what they are voting for.
To me, the real question is, how do we get more people educated on the importance of the school board and involved in the process of voting? I guess you could argue that simply including it as part of the general election would do that, but I'm not sure that is the fix. IMO, people are barely taking the time and effort to get down to learning about the candidates for their district for the Iowa House/Senate. Are they going to really now be taking on the next step and look at school board members too? Maybe, maybe not, and if not, then (as I mentioned above), we'd be making this a bigger problem.