West Des Moines seeks $30M in state aid for Valley West Mall overhaul

The city of West Des Moines plans to seek $30 million in state aid to help convert the Valley West Mall site into a mix of apartments, outward-facing stores, an entertainment center, offices, a hotel, free-standing business parcels, and public gathering spaces. (Image courtesy of city of West Des Moines)

West Des Moines will ask the state for $30 million in aid for a $278 million overhaul of Valley West Mall, the city said Friday.

The project would include a five-story conference hotel, an entertainment venue, housing, offices, two ponds, and a remodeling of the retail space so stores will have direct access from the parking lot, similar to Merle Hay Mall. 

Mall owner Watson Properties plans to invest $262 million in the property. The city is applying to the state to make the Valley West area a reinvestment district eligible for part of a special state fund. It’s the same program under which Des Moines is seeking money, in the range of $40 million to $50 million, for a downtown soccer stadium and a range of other developments downtown.

Merle Hay Mall also is seeking aid for improvements that would include housing and a hockey arena. Johnston plans to seek aid for redevelopment along Merle Hay Road.

Clyde Evans, West Des Moines community and economic development director, said a city study of the University Avenue commercial area showed improvements to Valley West would be vital to rejuvenating the area. Valley West has seen a decline in business in the years since Jordan Creek Town Center opened.

“The market analysis and interviews with property owners, local brokers and developers told us a great deal,” Evans said in a statement. “It’s clear that without a significant overhaul and transformation of the mall site, other property owners will not make investments in their properties, and the University Avenue corridor in Clive and West Des Moines will decline.”

Valley West would tear down two vacant anchor-store buildings that were occupied by Younkers and JC Penney. The Younkers area would have 18,000 square feet of added restaurant space, housing, five separated retail parcels, and a public gathering area around a pond.

The area where JC Penney was would have retail, offices, housing and one of the ponds.

The south end of the mall would have a 65,000 square foot entertainment complex. The north end would have a 130,000-square-foot event space along with the five-story hotel. A three-story office building also is planned in the northwest part of the site.

Evans said the planned projects would add $100 million to the city’s property valuation.

The state has $100 million from hotel-motel taxes committed to the chosen projects, which have to be approved by July 1, 2025. The money comes from growth in tax receipts in reinvestment districts.