INGERSOLL PLANS: $17 Million Update

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Des Moines City leaders have $17 million plans for Ingersoll and Grand avenues. They hope the improvements entice you to live, work, and play just west of downtown.

Leaders have had a series of announcements in the past month about the area. Crème Cupcake, Noodles and Company, Qdoba, and Orange Leaf all announced plans to open.

The City Council says Grand and Ingersoll Avenues need to be upgraded anyway, so why not do all the improvements at the same time? The problem is that they're expensive. However, City Council member Christine Hensley hopes a $17 million investment will reap a bigger reward.

“On the west side of Des Moines we know it`s a great place to come but we’re not sure the rest of central Iowa feels same way,” says Ted Irvine, who owns The Mansion, and interior design business.

Irvine opened his business on Ingersoll seven years ago. He helped the city raise millions for the "City Scape" project, most visibly known for its pretty potted plants.

“We`ve got 100 year-old sewers in this town so all work for this may have looked like construction to get flower beds but that’s not the case.”

The four block pilot project not only fixed the sewers, but widened the sidewalk. City Council member Hensley says it's a success.

“People stop now. They`re going slower and not just zooming through and they’re saying, ‘I didn`t realize it was there,’” says Hensley.

Hensley wants to expand the program all the way from 42nd Ave. down to 15th. However, it's expensive.

“I don`t think it`s realistic to believe that we have to do fundraising for the rest of the Street Scape. We have to have a mechanism that allows us to create revenue.”

TIF, or tax increment financing, would help pay for development costs by freezing the taxable value of that district. Hensley says if they do all the improvements at the same time, the city saves money.

To bring it all together, DART is proposing a "Rapid Transit line" from downtown, along University Ave. and looping around at 42nd street. The idea is to bring younger people to the "hip" and growing part of central Iowa.

“In the old Days you might say we’re going to Wellman’s or Embers but now people say they`re going to Ingersoll.”

Parking is another big issue of this plan. Right now, each business has to provide a minimum amount of parking. A new "cash in lieu" of program would eliminate that requirement in exchange for money which would go towards creating new parking in the area. City Council will hear the proposal at their meeting Monday night.