Coalition Discusses Project to Revitalize Douglas Avenue

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- City officials have big plans for Douglas Avenue, and they say what they have in mind could be a game changer. A coalition of businesses, neighborhood associations, non-profits and residents (The Douglas Avenue Coalition) are coming together with city officials to revitalize Douglas Avenue. The Coalition wants to make the stretch a destination for shopping, dining, recreation, commerce and more.

"These neighborhoods surrounding this stretch of land, the residential neighborhoods, are beautiful, very well kept," said Brian O'Leary, President of the Douglas Avenue Coalition. "We have excellent quality housing in this area. All we`re missing is the good, high-level quality of businesses."

O'Leary said the businesses are tired, old, lacking landscaping and not up to standard for today's needs. There are more than 80 businesses along the nearly three mile stretch along Douglas Avenue from Merle Hay Rd to the Des Moines River. Between 15,000 and 21,000 vehicles travel along this stretch every day.
Officials closely involved with the project say, at this point, it's unclear how much the project will cost and where the money to pay for it will come from.

"What we have to do is identify the opportunities and then see who the partners might be that can bring the vision forward," said Phil Delafield, Director of Community Development for the City of Des Moines. "There may be grants. There may be other opportunities that arise that we may not yet be aware of. We don`t have a budget in mind, because we don`t know what the vision is first. So, we`re gonna try to establish the vision, see what that vision might cost, and then try to figure out what those funding opportunities might be."

"The process in general, if you can kind of imagine, it`s kind of three steps: where are we at now? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?" explained Cory Scott, of RDG Planning & Design."

For the rest of the year, the Coalition and RDG Planning & Design will be seeking input from the public on what they want to see done.

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