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ANKENY, IA-DRA Properties, the master developer for the 1,031-acre, mixed-use Prairie Trail development, has formed a partnership with Minneapolis-based Capital Growth Madison Marquette to handle the construction of two retail areas for the project. Capital Growth will be responsible for developing Town Center, a lifestyle/downtown center area, and the smaller Plaza Shoppes, all totaling about 500,000 sf. The rest of the project includes about 2,500 single-family and multifamily homes, about 80 acres of office, a hotel, 200 acres of parks and walking trails and civic buildings such as a police headquarters, a school and a 50,000-sf library.

Construction on various preliminary parts of the project are underway, and 152 single-family homes have already been built, says a DRA spokeswoman. The site, at the intersection of highways 35 and 80, has come a long way since it was a World War II ordinance plant, and then a experimental dairy farm owned by Iowa State University. DRA partnered with the city in July 2005 to create Prairie Trail, buying the land for $23.6 million, and agreeing to pay another $25 million for infrastructure for the large project.

The project, especially the Town Center area, is being developed as a walkable community, a new urbanism development, with various forms of residential, first-floor retail/residential and public buildings all nearby and connected by parks and bicycle paths in the center of the site. “There will be a lot of walk-up, storefront retail, with national, regional and local retailers mixed together around a town square,” says Dick Ward, SVP of acquisitions and investments for Capital Growth.

The Plaza will be at the southern entrance to the site, and will be anchored by a Hy-Vee grocery store, Ward tells GlobeSt.com. “There will also be some freestanding stores, as well as a strip center to compliment the grocery store.”

No other retailer has been signed yet, especially since the partnership was just solidified. “We’re really going to be kicking off our marketing at ICSC Las Vegas coming up next week, that was our impetus to get this announcement prior to the convention,” Ward says. He says he’d like to at least get one or two fashion anchors to the Town Center as soon as possible.

The project will take about seven to 10 years to build-out, the DRA spokeswoman says, with the residential and the retail making up the first phase. She says she could not provide more details on the office park area, which is now getting needed infrastructure and will get more attention in the second phase of the project. “Market studies have shown us that this is a viable retail location, and the office community is already looking at the site. We think this will be a very successful project,” the spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com. The property is just north of Des Moines, and is home to the Ankeny Campus of Des Moines Area Community College.

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