STREET FACELIFT: Plans For Southwest 9th

Monday night, Des Moines City Council voted to acquire a vacant lot on the corner of SW 9th and Army Post Road.

Council members hope it will lead to development, and in the long term, a facelift for SW 9th Street.

On SW 9th Street, there are nice areas.

Lincoln High School remains beautiful, and there may be no better view of the city than from McRae Park.

Some areas aren’t as easy on the eyes.

Across from Lincoln are run-down buildings with shattered windows.

Work your way down the road and you’ll see as many vacant lots as thriving businesses.

“Either clean them up, tear them down, or fix them up, said Phil Barber, a member of the Southwest 9th Merchants Association.

Barber says he’s fed up.

“It’s nothing like it used to be and it’s run down,” Barber told Channel 13 News.

He’s working with the Des Moines City Council to begin a pilot project.

The goal is to attract new businesses to the area and to clean up store fronts of existing properties.

“I think it’s up to the homeowner or property owner to keep their properties nice. Whether it’s new paint or pulling the weeds,” said Barber.

Councilwoman Christine Hensley says she wants to help.

Hensley plans to meet with neighborhood organizations, property owners and other groups over the next six months.

They’ll work together to figure out why improvements aren’t being made to properties and what it will take to restore them.

“You have to determine what the cost will be and what role the city will play. Some of it will be ordinance changes,” Hensley told Channel 13 News.

SW 9th is over five miles long so cleaning it up won’t happen overnight.

Hensley says the city must start somewhere, and acquiring the lot on the corner of Army Post Road is a step in the right direction.

“We’re hoping it eliminates one of the last barriers and there will be high interest right there,” said Hensley.

Cleaning up and bringing new businesses to SW 9th will be a slow process.

Work on Ingersoll Avenue has taken more than ten years to complete, and SW 9th is five times as long.

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