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Pleasant Hill pushes to increase residential vacancies in the community

In 2018, a report showed vacancies in the city were at 3 percent. The city has been working to get that number closer to 5 percent.

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — At Great Escape in Pleasant Hill, owner Randy Thompson keeps an eye on the demographics of the area.

"People will bowl where it's close to home; they'll come eat where it's close to home; they'll recreate where it's close to home," Thompson said.

So, a growing community is a good thing.

"In order for us to grow our attractions, we have to have more population to draw off of," he said.

The growth the city is seeing now didn't just happen.

In fact, in 2018 a study showed a 3% vacancy in residential units in Pleasant Hill. The city said 5% is ideal.

"The critical importance of that is, once someone moves into a community, they're likely to locate in your community long term," said Madeline Sturms, community development director for Pleasant Hill.

In response, the city looked at zoning laws and worked with developers.  By 2020, the city set a record for residential building permits. Now, those are coming to fruition as more homes and apartments are built.

"We're starting to see some of that availability come and so what we hope, then, is that those residents have a great experience when they are living in Pleasant Hill," Sturms said.

The Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce will tell you that's already happening.

"We've noticed that a lot more folks are wanting to spend their money and spend their time can Pleasant Hill," said Mackenzie Carlson, executive director of the organization.

According to Carlson, however, one challenge still exists: business vacancies.

"We have very few business rentals to be able to help small businesses find a brick and mortar right now within the city of Pleasant Hill," she said.

Thompson, meanwhile, said he likes what he has seen so far.

"I like to see that growth, which is happening a lot in the areas that we live in," he said.

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