Neighborhood lottery

Adam Plagge | Economic Developer, Johnston

The Idea: While the Des Moines metro has some strong neighborhoods with thematic architecture (Beaverdale, Sherman Hill), a central amenity (Drake) or an integral neighborhood commercial district (Valley Junction, Highland Park) that tie the neighborhood together, too many suffer from a lack of distinct cohesive identity. Des Moines should annually set aside a significant pool of money, perhaps from the potential local option sales tax revenues, to fund one substantial and defining neighborhood project a year. Neighborhoods should be invited to submit their big idea to an annual lottery. Ideas should be lightly screened in some fashion for potential impact, neighborhood support and feasibility. If a basic threshold is met, the neighborhood is entered into the lottery. If Lady Luck presents herself, the neighborhood is provided the seed funding that can be used to help transform and strengthen the neighborhood’s identity, be it a defining landscape feature, a blighted area buyout and transformation into a walkable neighborhood retail redevelopment, or whatever the neighborhood dreams up. >