By Ron Marasco
Des Moines city leaders are turning their attention to one area in particular: it's 42nd Street, north of the Interstate to Crocker.
Known for the Shops at Roosevelt or the Des Moines Playhouse, the locals say it needs a makeover.
The two block stretch may not be large in size, but it's a big deal to those who live and work there, not to mention those who drive through it.
Nearly 20,000 cars pass through the Roosevelt Cultural District daily. What they see is a drab, congested corridor in need of a facelift.
"Everybody realizes that we need to do some things here," said Jennifer Sayers, co-chair of the 42nd Streetscape Project.
Those things include improving traffic flow and walkability, and beautifying the area with treatments and landscaping.
"It's really important for the city to look pretty, especially if you're trying to attract people from out of town to come visit and shop," said Kelly Sharp, who just walked out of the Cheese Shop in The Shops at Roosevelt.
"I'm expecting that it will just liven up in the same way Ingersoll Avenue has livened up," said Sheena Thomas, co-owner of Elements, Ltd.
Community members started a grassroots effort to revitalize the area. They talked to the city, who hired a consulting firm. Bolton-Menk, Inc. may be steering the ship, but they're taking direction from community members.
"We're looking to create a brand or an identity for the corridor itself, really to invite not only the users currently who are using it, but also bring in people regionally," said Jim Harbaugh, a landscape architect at Bolten-Menk.
Organizers held their first open house at Roosevelt High School to introduce their vision to the public and to gather input.
"It's an exciting process," said Harbaugh. "It's a wonderful neighborhood to work in. The people are very engaged in the process itself, and I'm excited to really bring this project to fruition."
Organizers say they hope to start the project in 2014. They say it's too early in the process to determine the size and scope of it, and therefore can't put a dollar amount to the project.