Design & Development Resources

Valley Junction Is Growing!

The potent combination of a rising metropolitan population, an attractive, walkable historic commercial district, and a strong economic environment for local, independent businesses make Valley Junction one of the most desirable shopping and dining districts in the Midwest. Private investment in Valley Junction is significantly increasing, with nearly $5 million in properties purchased and projects completed in 2021 alone. We are proud of our history and our accomplishments, but we’re also looking forward to future growth.

Historic West Des Moines Master Plan and Design Guidelines

To address concerns related to the accelerating rate of property development, the City of West Des Moines instituted a temporary building moratorium in March 2021. Shortly thereafter, the council appointed the Historic West Des Moines Master Plan Steering Committee, since the period covered by the previous five-year plan for the area had just ended. The new Steering Committee, representing district building and property owners, neighborhood residents, and other stakeholders, is working with the City and Teska Associates to craft a new five-year plan.

The design guidelines for Valley Junction’s mixed-use commercial district, approved by the City Council in February 2022, are a key component of this plan. A demolition moratorium is in place until September 2022, but building rehab may proceed. Visit the Historic West Des Moines Master Plan website for information about meeting agendas and video, visual preference and parking survey results, project documents, and more. Public input is invited and encouraged in this collaborative process.

Incentives for property improvement and development

A wide variety of financial tools are available to rehab and upgrade properties in Valley Junction, particularly contributing buildings in our National Register Historic District. Property owners and developers can layer these program funds to improve their buildings and preserve the character of Historic Valley Junction.

The beautiful buildout at The Venue, 209 Fifth, was made possible in part by City-funded programs.
Photo Credit:  Jacob Sharp


The City of West Des Moines has several programs to encourage development in Valley Junction, with a particular focus on the rehabilitation of irreplaceable historic buildings. Visit their website for details and applications.

The Property Improvement Fund provides zero-interest loans for the renovation and upgrade of older commercial, office, industrial, and mixed-use properties within the Historic West Des Moines study area. Eligible projects include structural work, roofs, rehabilitation of underused areas, facade improvements, additions, and professional services. The loan amount is up to $75,000, or $100,000 if the building is a contributing resource in the National Register Historic District. Applications are now closed for the 2022 program.

The Regulatory Compliance Fund provides 1:1 matching grants for properties within the Historic West Des Moines study area to comply with requirements for fire sprinklers and suppression, ADA improvements, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems, range hoods, fats, oil, and grease tank installation, and repair or replacement of structural elements of buildings. The grant amount is $75,000, or $100,000 if the building is a contributing resource in the National Register Historic District. Applications are now closed for the 2022 program.

The Property Tax Rebate Program provides a five-year, 100% rebate of the tax increment revenues generated by building construction and upgrades. If a project involves the renovation of a contributing building in the National Register Historic District, the property owner would be eligible for a ten-year, 100% property tax rebate. Additional conditions apply.


Main Street Challenge Grant

The Historic Valley Junction Foundation is your exclusive local partner for the Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant, a competitive, bricks and mortar, dollar-for-dollar matching grant program offering up to $100,000 in support of transformative local projects. The Historic Valley Junction Foundation can apply for this reimbursement grant funding on behalf of one project per year; there is no guarantee of funding. The 2023 application round is now closed.

We are also your exclusive local partner to access the Main Street Iowa Loan Program, a partnership program with the Iowa Finance Authority and the Federal Home Loan Bank-Des Moines. This program offers favorable rate loans for rehabilitation (with an emphasis on upper-floor housing) projects in designated Main Street districts. Contact our office for more information.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority, with the Iowa Finance Authority, offers the Downtown Loan Guarantee Program. It is designed to provide financial assistance in the form of loan guarantees for eligible downtown revitalization projects. IEDA/IFA will partner with Iowa financial institutions to secure necessary funding for eligible brick and mortar projects in a joint effort to stimulate Iowa’s economy to aid in the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Visit their website for additional information.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs administers the highly competitive Historic Resource Development Program grant, offering matching funds of up to $50,000 for historic preservation projects. Applications are typically due in May for projects begun after July 1. For more information, visit the IDCA website.

The IDCA also oversees the State Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, providing a state income tax credit for the sensitive, substantial rehabilitation of historic buildings. It ensures character-defining features and spaces of buildings are retained and helps revitalize surrounding neighborhoods. This important funding tool provides an income tax credit of up to 25% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures. Visit the website to learn more.


The State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa is your first point of contact for the Federal Historic Tax Credit, a 20% income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing properties. Go here for information about this program.

Design Assistance to Meet Your Needs

As an accredited Main Street America program, we can help business and property owners access design expertise at no cost. Main Street Iowa professionals can work with you on renderings and recommendations for site development, interior and exterior rehab, new construction, signage, restoration techniques, and more. They can also direct you towards financial resources like grants and tax credits that can help turn your vision into reality. To schedule a design consultation, contact the Historic Valley Junction Foundation office.

For Further Reading

A Pattern Book for West Des Moines Neighborhoods – A guide for homeowners considering renovations to Valley Junction properties.

Architectural Survey of Valley Junction

Valley Junction National Historic District nomination – Portions of the Valley Junction business district are included in a National Register Historic District. This document gives the history of that district.

Enter your email below to sign up for our newsletter.