WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — This week, the West Des Moines City Council approved guidelines for how mixed-used commercial spaces in Historic Valley Junction should look, laying out approved styles for new builds and remodels.
Having guidelines that businesses should abide by became a big deal a few years ago when new construction started in the main area.
"We received complaints about [those] designs and the materials used," said Steve Frevert, executive director of the Historic Valley Junction Foundation.
He also said people were complaining about how the new build looked too modern and did not fit the historic feel. Those complaints were also heard by the City of West Des Moines.
After hearing them, Brad Munford, a business development coordinator for the city, said they sent out surveys to residents and they created a steering committee to see what building styles people preferred.
Hundreds of people responded to the survey.
Some of the results showed that a two-story building with neutral bricks received a rating of "4.4 out of 5 of very appropriate". New builds that were described as a flat box architecture with non-traditional windows received a "1.9 out of 5 of very inappropriate".
Munford said the city listened to the public and considered those ratings when making the guidelines.
"We have something really nice down here," he said. "Valley Junction is one of our crown jewels and our crown here and we want to make sure it continues to sparkle."
The guidelines are things people are happy about, according to Frevert.
"It tells people how tall a building can be," he said. "A building can be no taller than one story above the adjacent buildings…They'll have a certain amount of storefront glass. Regular appearance and high-quality materials."
Meredith Wells, the owner of MoMere and the Board President of Historic Valley Junction Foundation, said the guidelines help preserve the history of the area but still allow businesses to be unique.
"It's been something that we've wanted for a long time for years down here that has just never come to fruition," Wells said.
The city is creating these guidelines as part of a master plan for the area.
Other parts of the plan include deciding what's going to happen in the area surrounding the mixed-use commercial space in Historic Valley Junction and the area off Railroad Avenue.
Those items should be finalized by fall 2022.
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