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Johnston Finding its ‘Identity’ with New Town Center

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- The city of Johnston is finally ready to break ground on a project years in the making. Since 2006, the city has talked about creating a place where residents could gather, a central meeting point of sorts, and finally the plans are complete.

The Johnston Town Center will be located on the east side of Merle Hay Road in between 62nd and 63 Avenue. It will be 18 acres of restaurants, outdoor activity space, local government buildings, a hotel and much more. It’s a place where officials hope will be the heart of the town.

“Every city needs an identity and part of Johnston's challenge is that we're only 50 years old,” Adam Plagge, Johnston’s economic development manager said. “We're one of the newest communities in the metro and across Iowa, so we kind of missed that main street style of development that everybody knows and loves growing up in small town Iowa. It's really something that we've seen that our residents wanted.”

One of the biggest requests in recent years is for a splash pad, and the Town Center will have it. It will also feature an ice skating rink, a place to have concerts, movies in the park, easy access to the trail head, plus multiple commercial and business real estate.

The city has almost acquired all the land they need for the project and already started demolition. Just last week the fire department had fire training on two buildings needing to be torn down.

Hansen Company and Hansen Real Estate were selected by the city for the project. Both of the companies are based in Johnston and said being able to make something like this happen for their town that they grew up in and now they are raising their kids in, is special.

“It gives us a place in the community for us to gather and to hang out. The city has really been lacking for a place for us all to go,” Troy Hansen, Owner of Hansen Real Estate Services said. “Hopefully with what we are bringing here there will be plenty of options to keep a family entertained throughout the entire day and night.”

Phase one is set to start sometime in October and will cost upwards of $30 million. The initial phase includes a brand new city hall. Right now they are located inside the old Hy-Vee building on the new Town Center’s lot.

Plagge said he hopes to be moved into the new building, and have the current one demolished by the end of 2020.

“The city has undergone a lot of growth in the last 20 years,” Plagge said. “This [city hall] was originally a Hy-Vee building. It also had the library and public safety at some point. Eventually a new library was built and a new public safety building built approximately 10 years ago. So it’s been through a lot of morphosis throughout the years. Right now it’s not laid out very well for us so we’re really excited to be in a new building that’s more suitable for the staffing levels we have, council chambers, and all the other accessories that are needed.”

The city says the entire Town Center is at least five to 10 years out from being 100 percent complete, but phase one that also includes the ice rink, splash pad, and green space will be complete in just over a year.

Along with phase one, includes construction on the 62nd Ave and Merle Hay Road intersection. Plagge said construction will start soon to widen the intersection to make way for turning lanes, while also making it more pedestrian friendly for those trying to get to the Town Center.

For more information on the city of Johnston's website click here. You can also follow the Town Center's progress via social media:

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