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It's Go Time: Urban Loop Makes Urbandale Even More Accessible

Urban Loop in 2020

October 29, 2020

Matt Carlile won’t forget the massive traffic congestion he and other drivers endured when they exited Interstates 35/80 at the Highway 141 interchange to head into Urbandale.

“Depending on the time of day, you could be sitting at a dead stop on the interstate, because the traffic was so heavy,” said Carlile, a long-time Urbandale resident and principal at Confluence, a professional firm of landscape architects, urban designers and planners. “Safety was a huge issue.”

This prompted the Iowa Department of Transportation and City of Urbandale to look at new solutions that are reaching completion with the Urban Loop, a thriving economic development area encompassing approximately four square miles in the City of Urbandale. Since Urbandale launched the Urban Loop development area in late 2017, many businesses have located, re-located or expanded here.Urbandale, Iowa

“John Deere was one of the first companies to choose the Urban Loop when they invested in their new building off of 100th Street in Urbandale a few years ago,” said Carlile. “More investors are really interested in this area, which continues to develop.”

Meeting the Challenges of Population, Traffic Growth

The Urban Loop’s defining element is the six miles of combined Interstates 35 and 80 between Merle Hay Road and Hickman Road in Urbandale. This user-friendly development area offers retail, office, flex, warehouse and light industrial space. More than 700 acres of land are ready to be developed in this strategic location.

“The Urban Loop area is supported by a network of highly accessible, interconnected traffic routes,” said David McKay, city engineer and director of engineering/public works for the City of Urbandale. “This makes Urbandale the center of opportunity for business investment and workforce talent.”

There’s a strong history of growth in this area. Previously known as Rider Corner (named for a long-closed former coal mine in the area), the Urban Loop’s name hints at a former streetcar turnaround loop that was once located near 70th Street and Roseland Drive. This is the area from which Urbandale grew as a city.

While Urbandale was essentially a small town during much of its history, things have changed dramatically in the past 20 years. “When I started working for the City of Urbandale in 1993, we were just bringing wastewater treatment west of the interstate, and the first houses were being built in that area,” McKay said. Urbandale Cityscape

By 2000, Urbandale’s population reached 29,072. In 2015, it soared to 42,449 residents. The city’s population is projected to rise to 69,000 in the near future.

Traffic counts have grown along with these population trends. While average daily traffic was 69,400 in 2000 at the junction of Interstates 35/80 and Highway 141, this has skyrocketed to 98,600 in 2020. The ADT is projected to reach 133,000 by 2040.

Not only will the flyover design of the Urban Loop improve traffic flows in this busy area, the addition of interchanges at Meredith Drive and 100th Street open the doors to new growth.

“This interchange access complements hundreds of acres of development-ready land,” said Lisa Hubbard, who has lived in Urbandale for 15 years and serves as vice president of digital sales and marketing at Premier Safety. “We have an incredible opportunity to shape the future of our community and position Urbandale for continued growth and success.”

Urbandale/Urban Loop Offers Unparalleled Access

Urbandale and the Urban Loop provide unparalleled access to:

  • Hundreds of acres of development-ready land with interstate visibility/access. The Urban Loop’s prime location connects with a coast-to-coast transportation network via seven I-35/80 interchanges, including new interchanges at 100th Street and Meredith Drive. “The Urban Loop has been in development for years, and it’s exciting to see all this come together,” McKay said.
  • A low city tax rate and highly-valued services. “The Urban Loop will encourage more residential development in the northwest part of the city, along with more business growth in Urbandale,” said Carlile, who noted that flexible tax rebates are available for development projects.
  • A strong network of local businesses. “It’s fun to see all the new businesses that keep popping up, thanks to the Urban Loop,” said Hubbard. “Whether it’s retail, restaurants or manufacturing, the possibilities are endless.”
  • Exceptional quality of life. “Eliminating a lot of traffic congestion and taking 10 or 15 minutes off the travel time for your commute to work or your trip across town means less stress,” Hubbard said. “The Urban Loop is generating a tremendous amount of access, convenience and excitement in Urbandale. It’s nothing but positive.”

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 17 percent below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.

Darcy Maulsby

Darcy Maulsby handles writing needs for a variety of businesses. She graduated with an MBA and BA from Iowa State University. Maulsby is on assignment for the City of Urbandale.