How fast is Grimes growing? Hy-Vee plans not one, but three stores there — and that's not all

Kim Norvell
Des Moines Register

Despite the pandemic-caused recession, Grimes is experiencing a boom. 

So far in 2020, the Des Moines suburb has added more single-family homes than it did in the entirety of 2019. And in the last two years, Grimes has issued building permits valued at $308 million for new construction of houses, apartments, townhomes and businesses.

Several more major projects are on the way.

Work on the Highway 141 flyover nears its final weeks on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Grimes. The new exit off Interstate 35 and 80 into Grimes is expected to open in September. It will make getting to Grimes even easier, further increasing the northwestern suburb's appeal for residents and businesses.

It's no surprise Grimes has been a target for development: It was the fourth-fastest-growing city in Iowa over the last decade, and was the fastest-growing city in the Des Moines metro last year, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Businesses naturally follow potential customers. Hy-Vee alone is planning three locations in Grimes, including a massive store that will have an architecturally different look than its predecessors, Randy Downs, assistant director, site planner for the grocery store chain, told the city's Planning and Zoning Commission at its Sept. 1 meeting. 

The 92,989-square-foot store at 351 N.E. Gateway Drive will have a nail salon, pharmacy, Starbucks, DSW shoe store, Joe Fresh clothing, a wine and spirits shop and a food hall.

It will also have a patio for dining and 10 grocery pickup lanes for its Aisles Online service, which, because of the pandemic, now represents 15% of Hy-Vee's business, Downs said. 

A new Hy-Vee in Grimes will have a nail salon, DSW, Joe Fresh clothes, wine and spirits, Aisles Online, pharmacy and a food hall.

"This is going to be a flagship store," he said. It is scheduled to open in September 2021. 

This is the first grocery store for Hy-Vee in Grimes, where the chain also is planning Fast & Fresh stores at 1401 E. First St. and at 3605 S.E. Gateway Drive. The latter will also have a Smokey Row coffee shop. 

While Hy-Vee has kept Grimes' Development Services Department busy, it's not the only project headed to the suburb. At its latest meeting alone the Planning and Zoning Commission also approved plans for a: 

  • Culver's restaurant at 1601 E. First St. 
  • Dollar Tree at 480 S.E. Gateway Drive. 
  • Tommy's Express Car Wash and Hyper Energy Bar coffee shop at 2480 E. First St.
  • 20,000-square-foot retail building at 1101 E. First St. with a drive-thru and patio. 
  • 40-acre plot for 86 single-family homes on N.W. 27th Street, which will be annexed into Grimes from unincorporated Polk County.

"It was a good night for Grimes," said Alex Pfaltzgraff, director of development services, a department the city added in 2018 to manage the city's burgeoning construction activity. "I think all the projects are really exciting, and it continues to reinforce that Grimes is relevant, Grimes is a good place to be, there’s convenience and the location is great."

►More:Four cities break records in 2019 as metro construction eclipses $2 billion

A majority of the new projects the commission approved are situated along or near Iowa Highway 141, one of the main corridors through Grimes. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, some 20,000 vehicles a day travel that stretch.

Urbandale, Grimes' neighbor to the south, has worked for years with the DOT to construct a flyover bridge off I-80/35 to reduce congestion and improve access to the suburbs. Scheduled to open at the end of September, it will allow travelers headed north toward Grimes to pass directly from the interstate to the highway. 

"We really see the flyover at Highway 141 is going to change the nature of the corridor," Pfaltzgraff said. "You'll be able to get into Grimes much easier."

The city is working with two developers who are undertaking massive residential and commercial projects along the highway. Heritage at Grimes is a 440-acre development that will eventually have 300 homes, ranging in price from $250,000 to $800,000, said real estate agent Jack Inman. There are also two apartment buildings totaling 400 units, a Lutheran church and a future Grimes public library.

Construction is starting now on a "town center" that will be similar to Prairie Trail in Ankeny. Its first projects are a recreational center and a few commercial buildings.

Grimes has been attractive for homebuyers because with 14,800 residents, it still feels like a small town, even though it increasingly has big-city amenities, Inman said.

"There's a lot of mix between commercial, industrial and residential in that town, and it's going just as fast as any town in the metro," he said. 

Just to the south is Hope K. Farms, a 200-acre development that will also include a mix of housing, retail, offices and other commercial spaces. The new Hy-Vee will be its anchor. 

The city and developers of Hope K. Farms are still working through conceptual plans for the land, and hope to present them in the fall.

"It'll certainly be the largest commercial development conceptualized and built in the city, without a doubt," Pfaltzgraff said. 

Both developments started as vacant land. The city is now working through an infrastructure study to determine what improvements it needs to make to attract development along First and James streets, Pfaltzgraff said.

The boom isn't expected to slow in Grimes, which has grown an average of 81% per decade since 1970. The city projects it will reach nearly 45,000 residents by 2040.

To accommodate all that growth, Grimes needs to add 11,854 apartments, townhomes and single-family homes and develop an additional 1,200 acres of land for future commercial use, according to the city's master plan.

Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at or 515-284-8259. Follow her on Twitter @KimNorvellDMR.

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