Valley Junction recognized / Jim Miller to receive Key to the City
Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines has been re-designated as an Iowa Great Place and a Cultural & Entertainment District by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. These special recognitions were awarded this year to just 22 communities in Iowa.
The announcement comes as Jim Miller, executive director of the Historic Valley Junction Foundation, has announced he will take on a new challenge in Cedar Rapids after serving in his current position since 2006.
He will receive a Key to the City in recognition of his efforts at the WDM City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 15, at City Hall, 4200 Mills Civic Parkway.
Miller said the arts, culture and heritage of the area are key priorities for the organization and community outreach efforts.
“Historic Valley Junction is truly the heart and soul of West Des Moines,” he said. “We have always been a leading commercial and residential neighborhood, with strong programming, diversity and the best people you will find anywhere.”
West Des Moines Community and Economic Development Director Clyde Evans said the recognition reaffirms the important role of Valley Junction in the community. “There are so many good things happening in this area right now, and Jim Miller has been a tireless advocate for Valley Junction since his first day on the job.”
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs describes Valley Junction as an “arts & culture mecca in the Midwest.” Centrally located in a pedestrian-friendly area, the District is home to seven art galleries and features programming and events year-round, including Gallery Nights, Valley Junction Arts Festival, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, and Music in the Junction. As of January 1, 2019, Historic Valley Junction is home to 164 businesses (97 retail, 52 service and 15 food and beverage.)
Other notable assets include the Tallgrass Theater, Val Air Ballroom, Jordan House Museum, Stilwell and Hillside Schools, and Phenix School Apartments.
As an Iowa Great Place, the Historic Valley Junction District was described by the Iowa Cultural Affairs Department as being located at the intersection of hip and history, where West Des Moines meets Des Moines (at 1st/63rd Streets, a main thoroughfare).
Originally designated an Iowa Great Place in 2007, some of the many unique characteristics of the Historic Valley Junction neighborhood include the walkability of the business district which includes four walk-through courtyards between 5th Street and public parking lots, allowing for easy access to shopping and events.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department promotes creativity as a catalyst for innovation, empowers Iowans to preserve history, and shares the stories of Iowa to connect past, present and future generations.