The one big mystery of Ankeny's boom

The Census Bureau reports that Ankeny is the #4 fastest-growing city in the United States (among all those with a population of more than 50,000). As someone raised in West Des Moines, I tip my cap to our rival suburb over on the north side. What's good for part of the metro is generally good for us all.

But every time I travel to, from, or past Ankeny, I'm perplexed by one big mystery: Why hasn't the city ever really grown east of I-35?

I'm not trying to be dense or facetious -- I really am confused why the growth has been almost entirely to the west of the Interstate. With all of the improvements made in recent years at the Corporate Woods and 36th Street freeway exits, I don't understand why there hasn't been a push to grow more to the east.

  • Are the landowners on that side of the highway just being holdouts?
  • Are there infrastructure improvements that remain a costly obstacle?
  • Do people just like being that much closer to Saylorville Lake?
  • Is the city deliberately holding back on annexations and development until the land to the west has filled in?

It's just such a stark contrast from an aerial view -- boom town to the west, farms to the right -- that I can't help but wonder what part of the story I'm missing. Isn't terrific existing freeway access one of the biggest advantages in Ankeny's back pocket?

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Brian Gongol

Brian Gongol

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