Grimesplex, a sprawling, multi-million-dollar sports facility set to open next summer in Grimes, is just the start of acres of development planned for East 1st Street in the western Des Moines suburb.
City and development officials ceremonially broke ground Wednesday on what will be a 50-acre, multi-use sports turf complex developed by the group Hope Development and Realty. The project is billed as the largest of its kind in the Midwest.
With 13 full-size soccer fields and 16 baseball and softball fields, the facility is expected to draw more than 1 million visitors, annually. The city is preparing for that possibility by building out the surrounding area with restaurants, hotels and housing to satisfy both visitors and residents.
Hope Development’s $30 million investment in Grimesplex is part of what the city is calling the Hope Entertainment District. Development owner Reza Kargarzadeh expects to be the 240-acre area, which includes Grimesplex, will be the source of nearly $400 million in investments over the next five to seven years.
Previously:Add a 13-field complex for youth soccer, football, baseball and softball to the developments planned in Grimes
Brian Buethe, executive director of Grimes Chamber and Economic Development, says the sports facility will be a “catalyst-type project” for the community and has been driving economic development in and around the area.
Already standing near the development is what Buethe says is the largest Hy-Vee in the state, set to open this fall. Also planned are an Arby’s, a B-Bop’s, a Dupaco Community Credit Union and a Hy-Vee Fast and Fresh Express. Hope Development has planned 260 townhomes to the north of the Grimesplex property.
“Grimes was already growing before this was even announced, and this was a great accelerator,” Buethe said.
The city has been planning for a large sports complex for years and started talks with developers in 2019. Hope Development committed to the project in 2020.
Reza Kargarzadeh, who owns Hope Development and named the company after his 11-year-old daughter, said the business has 7,500 acres of land between about six counties in Iowa, with 3,000 acres in development — the company currently has projects underway in Grimes, Ankeny, Johnston and Waukee, among other locations.
Hope’s partnership with the city began when the company donated 48 acres of land about six years ago for a new middle school. Kargarzadeh, who lives in West Des Moines with his family, said the relationship grew from there.
“We all hear how Ankeny is growing; we all hear how Waukee is growing,” Kargarzadeh said during Wednesday’s ceremony. “Well, let me tell you something: Grimes is next.”
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The city has agreed to give Hope Development & Realty up to $25 million in tax increment financing for the entire development, the Register previously reported. In exchange, Grimes’ Parks & Recreation Department would gain rights to field use. In 10 years, the developer would donate the entire complex to the city.
The project already promises to bring in athletes with a 10-year contract with Sporting Iowa, an academy affiliate to Sporting Kansas City. Chairman Scott VanderHert said having access to 13 turf fields, which are able to be split up into 50 youth-sized soccer fields, are necessary in Iowa when the weather can eliminate grass fields as an option.
“Teams that travel, they want to make sure they’re sure to have games, whereas, when you’re in grass complexes, weather has a lot to say in that,” he said.
Sporting Iowa currently trains its athletes, who range in ages from four to 19, across three soccer fields in Johnston, Urbandale and West Des Moines. VanderHert said the new complex will provide a centralized location for training and will extend the season.
Technical Director Rich Bywater said the facility will also allow Sporting Iowa to host league games, bringing in teams around the area, instead of them having to travel across the Midwest.
“That draws in a lot more players, a lot more quality,” he said. “Now, our family members don’t have to travel as far.”
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Buethe said that, while the businesses surrounding Grimesplex intend to keep visitors engaged and investing in the community instead of traveling outside the area, they will also serve as a bonus for residents who live and work in Grimes.
“Who doesn’t like a new restaurant in their backyard and who doesn’t like to have entertainment options close to their homes?” Buethe said. “We think that not only will this be a really good thing for commercial development and the visitors, making this more of a tourist destination, but, really, it’s improving the quality of life for the people that live here.”
Sarah LeBlanc covers the western suburbs for the Register. Reach her at 515-284-8161 or [email protected]. Follower her on Twitter at @sarahkayleblanc.