Community Development

Spirit Lake is a rapidly developing city, boasting one of the fastest growing economies in northwest Iowa. New residential areas are sprouting in the southern part of the City, retail and commercial businesses are locating along the Highway 71 corridor and in and near downtown.

Spirit Lake has many different types of housing opportunities, from living in well-established neighborhoods to new housing developments to historic district homes and downtown apartments. A wide range of housing is available, from moderate income to higher end. Lakeside living is a great lifestyle but is not the only option to be able to enjoy the Iowa Great Lakes. Spirit Lake has approximately 2,500 housing units; over 150 improved lots are now available for new housing, ranging from affordable housing to executive homes.

Spirit Lake has an attractive and thriving downtown and more development is underway. The Olde Town Merchants Committee works to promote and revitalize the active downtown business district. The Committee is composed of downtown merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and the City. To get information about activities and receive meeting notices, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 712-336-4978 or e-mail at

Planning & Zoning

The City adopted a new Comprehensive Plan in late 2009. New Zoning and Subdivision Regulation ordinances were adopted in 2010. Together, these will guide the City’s development into the next decade. We believe these plans and regulations are forward-looking to accommodate new planning concepts and modern technologies (such as solar panels and wind turbines). They also identify areas for new development of all types. The City anticipates updating these codes at least every five years.

The Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council adopted an updated Future Land Use Map. Numerous changes are underway and a new Zoning District Map is should be completed near the end of 2013.

Building Design and Improvement Grants

The City has architectural standards for new construction in commercial and industrial areas. These are intended to improve the quality and appearance of buildings and to maintain property values. The Council has adopted voluntary design guidelines for downtown properties that are intended to guide improvements toward historic elements or to avoid building changes that detract from the appearance of downtown. City grant funds are available for façade improvements in the Olde Town area. The City will provide 40% of the cost of an eligible project up to a maximum grant of $20,000. For more information on this program and other downtown developments, call Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce at 712-336-4978. The Design Guidelines are available on the button on the left.