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The Making of a Place: Urbandale's Urban Loop Marks a Strong First Year

Urbandale Loop

January 24, 2019

A key Urbandale asset is Interstates 35/80 which have run through the City of Urbandale for 50+ years. An iconic feature of the interstates is the 90-degree bend which helps to anchor one of the city’s main development areas. Before the development initiative, it wasn’t uncommon to hear this area referred to as Rider Corner, possibly referencing an old coal mine that was abandoned in the mid-twentieth century. With time—and while Urbandale continued to grow — the mine was forgotten, but negative images of the area persisted with local news referencing traffic backups and congestion at “Rider Corner.”

New interchanges at 100th Street, Meredith Drive and Iowa Highway 141 are providing Urbandale and the region with new access to over 700+ acres for quality infill development close to the Metro core. The interstate, iconic bend and development area were re-introduced to the region as the Urban Loop in September 2017 to shed the antiquated “Rider Corner” and show new access to land, transportation, workforce and markets.

The Origin of the Urban Loop Name

The Urban Loop name incorporates three concepts of “loops” that have shaped Urbandale. The first goes back one hundred years to Urbandale’s founding when Urbandale grew around the location of a Des Moines streetcar “turnaround loop” at the end of Urbandale Line #7. The iconic ninety-degree bend in the interstate mimics a “loop” as it sends traffic northeast to southwest or vice-versa. Finally, Urbandale’s geographical position and the ninety-degree bend in the interstate is an integral part of every key transportation “loop” in the Metro.


Urban Loop Development

Just over a year after the launch of this ambitious marketing and development initiative, momentum is clearly building. Calendar Year 2018 saw the full implementation and success of the Urban Loop. In the first 12 months after the City launched the Urban Loop development initiative, 14 commercial developments have chosen to locate or expand in Urbandale’s Urban Loop (see all of the projects here).

In mid-2018, the Iowa Department of Transportation adopted the new name for the area, updating its Major Construction Projects page reflecting the infrastructure and interchange enhancements happening in the Urban Loop. A new northbound I-35/80 to Iowa 141 flyover ramp will replace the loop ramp in the southeast quadrant of the current interchange in 2020. Improvements will also include a new half-diamond interchange on the south side of Meredith Drive. The entire project is expected to be completed in late 2020.

Additionally, the City/County Communications and Marketing Association awarded Urbandale its Silver Circle award to the City for its Urban Loop branding and marketing campaign. The judges commented: “From beginning to end, this was a well thought out initiative. The catchy name is sure to go far in helping Urbandale rebrand this area. Transportation campaigns can be daunting. Urbandale is definitely up to the task!”

Joni Ernst UrbanLoop UrbanLoop in DSM USA

Urbandale values its partnerships with organizations across Central Iowa that are fueling the growth and development of our area. Every community brings assets that contribute to DSM USA’s competitiveness and Urbandale is proud to contribute new access to infrastructure and development opportunities that will keep our region growing.

Throughout Greater Des Moines’ (DSM’s) eight county region, a thriving economic environment is attracting more investors to do business. Learn more about other recent development projects in the region.

Curtis Brown

Curtis Brown, CEcD is the assistant city manager and director of economic development for the City of Urbandale, Iowa. Prior to this position, Brown worked as the Economic Development Director for the City of Ankeny. He also held positions as the executive director of the Mason City Economic Development Corporation and community development director/assistant city administrator for Blue Earth, Minnesota. Originally from the Saint Paul, Minnesota area, Curtis resides in Urbandale with his wife Rachel and four sons.