Residents and business owners make an investment in the Drake neighborhood

Thanks to Dogtown Business owners and Drake area homeowners for investing in their community!

While shopping and entertainment districts across Iowa are just trying to survive the pandemic business slowdown, Des Moines’ Drake neighborhood is in the middle of a transformation.

Millions of dollars have been spent in the University Avenue district — and millions more are expected over the next few years, bringing hundreds of new apartment dwellers and visitors to the area.

Business owners are ready to welcome an onslaught of foot traffic, including from a new hotel that opened last month, and are working on a branding campaign to create an identity for the business district near Drake University. Its boundaries stretch from Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway to 31st Street along University Avenue, stretching into the nearby neighborhoods roughly bounded by Carpenter Avenue to the north and Cottage Grove Avenue to the south.

The hope is the area will become the next East Village or Valley Junction, said Darrell Sarmento, executive director of the Des Moines West Side Chamber of Commerce, as it positions itself to emerge from the pandemic.

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