EXTREME MAKEOVER: Merle Hay Road Changes

Merle Hay Road has been a focal point of development for the past several years. Now the City of Johnston is planning a 20 year project to revamp the south side of road. The city has been working for more than a year to make their main street welcoming.

“Well first I think what you have to do is lay out a vision and we`ve done that with this master plan,” says Johnston Mayor Paula Dierenfeld.

Dierenfeld thinks the gateway into the city needs work.

“What I tell people it’s kind of the face of our community and right now our face doesn`t look really good and so we want to change that.”

The community has had a chance to work with city planners on a blue – print for the Merle Hay corridor.

The plan is to make the south end of the road a destination point for Johnston residents and other metro residents to enjoy. Mayor Dierenfeld says the plan is long overdue and it will be difficult.

“I think probably the hardest part will be trying to maintain our focus and try to implement our plan in thoughtful way,” says Dierenfeld.

Redevelopment would take place between NW 55th Street and the 890/35 interchange. Community developers say the hope is to make use of vacant buildings and lots and turn them into restaurants, business and town homes.

“Were hoping that this planning effort with spark interest from the development community the real estate community to start looking at investing in the area,” says David Wilwerding.

Pagliai’s Pizza is located near the interchange and has watched Merle Hay evolve over the years. They welcome the change.

“Well that property is just sitting back there, it’s really don`t doing anything for the community so I would say if we could make something of it in a positive way that the city`s planning, I’m all for it,” says Owner Nick Pagliai.

On Monday the planning and zoning commission will consider the plan, the following Monday the city council will do the same. Once approved, some projects will begin later this fall.