Meet our Executive Board
The Douglas Avenue Coalition is a partnership between local businesses, neighborhood associations, non-profits and residents committed to the development of vibrant, viable businesses along Douglas Avenue between the Des Moines River and Merle Hay Rd.
We will accomplish this mission by…
- building a community coalition between businesses, neighborhood associations, and other like-minded entities,
- encouraging aesthetic and infrastructure improvements of public and private spaces, and
- providing innovative business incentives to encourage the development of new and existing businesses.
Our Target Area
The image below shows the stretch of Douglas Avenue we are improving. This is a 2.8 mile corridor bordered by Merle Hay Road on the west and the Des Moines River on the east. This stretch includes over 80 businesses, single family homes, apartments, churches, a school, a VA hospital, a fire department, and more. This corridor is also U.S. Highway 6 and sees between 15,000 and 21,000 vehicles every day.
Our Current Status
We are currently focused on creating a master corridor plan for the 2.8 mile stretch of Douglas Avenue described as the target area above. In coordination with Des Moines Community Development, RDG Planning and Design has been hired to combine public engagement, economic and market analysis, and innovative urban design concepts to complete the plan. At the end of this process (which is anticipated to last about 6 to 8 months), we will have a plan that involves streetscape improvements, recommendations for private property improvements, and conceptual site plans for major nodes along the corridor. The plan will also include cost estimates and phasing to help us incrementally implement parts of the plan and seek federal, state, and local funding opportunities to fund each phase.
The Douglas Avenue Coalition is working closely with our surrounding neighborhood associations to ensure a successful outcome that addresses the needs of multiple neighborhoods.
The Douglas Avenue Coalition began in early 2015 with the renewal of the Lower Beaver Neighborhood Association‘s (LBNA) Business Relations Committee (BRC). The BRC was charged by the association’s board of directors to find ways to accomplish the priorities laid out in the Neighborhood Action Plan (LBNP) pertaining to business in the area.
The first planning meeting of the renewed BRC was held in February 2015. At this initial meeting, the two LBNA board members and one local businessman were in attendance decided that the best way to support vibrant, viable businesses in the neighborhood was to invite the participation of local businesses. It was also realized that simple conversation would not suffice: the neighborhood’s commercial district was in desperate need of revitalization. Committee members resolved to meet again with others interested in pursuing revitalization.
In April, when the BRC reconvened, several additional businesses were represented as well as the Prospect Park Neighborhood Association (PPNA) and Ward 1 City Councilman Bill Gray. A purpose statement and priorities were agreed upon based on the LBNP, and several action steps were identified.
During the discussion, it was realized that the best way to accomplish real revitalization of the Douglas Avenue commercial corridor was to involve as many interested parties as possible. Given that the corridor extends well beyond the boundaries of the LBNA and PPNA, and the government entities holding authority over the area would be piqued by scale, coalition members recognized the need to invite other neighborhoods to participate in the effort.
Since much of Douglas Avenue east of the Des Moines River and west of Merle Hay Road have already seen significant development and re-development in recent years, it was decided to focus on the area between the Des Moines River and Merle Hay Road. Members therefore placed high priority on reaching out to the neighborhood associations and businesses in that area.
Thus, the Douglas Avenue Coalition was born. The group’s ambitions are to see the entire stretch of Douglas Avenue, from the Des Moines River to Merle Hay Road, become a vital destination for shopping, dining, recreation, commerce, and more. In short, the DAC aims to make the Douglas Avenue corridor a place that people want to live, work, and play.