Ames Chamber of Commerce

Cranes over Ames – Signs of Economic Progress

July 27, 2016

I once heard a long-time economic developer from another part of the U.S. say that you could tell a lot about how a community was doing economically by the number of cranes in the sky. 

A quick survey this week would find at least four construction cranes above the Ames landscape.

Living in the Ames area it’s often easy to assume that every community is enjoying the level of job creation, capital investment, and economic vitality we witness daily here in Cyclone Country.  These cranes are proof that our community is thriving.

Starting in Campustown, two cranes can currently be found on the Iowa State University campus where the Biosciences Center for Advanced Teaching and Research is being constructed at the corner of Stange Road and Pammel Drive.

Closer to Downtown, cranes were on site for many months at the Mary Greeley Medical Center campus. While they are no longer on site, you can still see workers finishing the new emergency services entrance to the hospital. In total, the hospital will have invested $130 million in this wonderful modernization project.

Drive along E. 13th Street and yet another crane towers above the new City of Ames water plant. This $52.5 million dollar project started in November, 2014 and is expected to be completed by Spring, 2017.   Just across the street from this massive project, in Eastgate Business Park, a new office building is under construction for the Greater Iowa Credit Union and a crane sits on the site carefully placing steel for the new structure.

Now a crane does not need to tower above a construction site to articulate capital investment. Manatt’s Construction Company, also on 13th Street, is expanding their corporate office to accommodate their growth.  A local software company, Xpanxion, just moved into a new building at 1315 South Bell Avenue and two new hotels are either open or nearing completion in the area – a new Hampton Inn & Suites and the TownePlace Suites by Marriott.

South Duff Avenue continues to be a priority location for development with the construction of a new Jimmy John’s building, the redevelopment of the former Pizza Hut that will be the site of a new Panda Express Chinese restaurant, and Aldi is building a new store on the corner of Duff Avenue and South 5th Street.

Over the last 5 years Campustown has seen its share of construction with Randall Corporation, Kingland Systems, OPUS, Gilbane, and local developers Dean and Luke Jensen building multi-story buildings to accommodate multiple uses such as new housing opportunities and commercial space for retail tenants like Barefoot Campus Outfitters, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Starbucks, and more. This area is also seeing redevelopment where Arcadia Coffee is updating a building at 116 Welch Avenue to expand its popular coffee shop.    

West Lincoln Way is also enjoying new investment with the new Sports Page Bar & Grill, Chuck Winkleblack’s two new multi-use buildings on the former site of a trailer park, and the former middle school athletic field where dirt is being moved to make way for more housing and commercial space.  This sits next to a new bank building owned and occupied by First National Bank of Ames that opened in the fall of 2015.  Westowne Pub recently made a major investment in the area with their expansion in southwest Ames.  And if you are wondering what is going up near the Sukup Basketball Complex—it’s a tennis facility being erected for the Iowa State University tennis teams.

Other notable projects around the community include the significant investment Wheatsfield Cooperative is making as the anchor business on the west end of downtown Ames. In the coming weeks you will see the Lincoln Center Hy-Vee under construction with a major redevelopment of their location at 640 Lincoln Way.  The new WalMart Supercenter in north Ames rounds out an enormous amount of commercial activity in Ames.

Finally, a multitude of new housing options are under construction in Northridge Heights, Scenic Valley, The Quarry, Hayden’s Crossing, Cameron Estates, Sunrise West, and more!

Look around and notice the cranes in the Ames skyline—they illustrate that we are open for business and clearly under construction.

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