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JOHNSTON, Iowa — Johnston has tripled its population in the past twenty years, and Merle Hay Road is growing right alongside the city.

Bombers Golf broke ground on the former North End Diner site earlier this month. The entertainment center is the latest project in progress on Merle Hay Road, joining LifeServe’s new blood center and the Ignit Sports and Recreation Complex.

“This gateway could be the jewel of the Des Moines metro,” said Bombers Golf developer Allen Stoye. “With Ignit across the street, our facility, and continued expansion, I think we’re going to bring a lot of people to Johnston.”

Merle Hay Road’s new era started with the Johnston Town Center’s grand opening in August 2021. The Backpocket Pin & Pixel taproom and the Cork 50131 wine bar opened in the town center at the start of this year.

Stoye said work on the Bombers site will start in a few weeks. He said it will become an all-encompassing place for outdoor entertainment once it opens.

“We’ll have Topgolf-style golf, a Popstroke-style outdoor putting course, mini-golf indoors, axe throwing, arcades, and bowling,” Stoye said. “It’s going to be something for everyone.”

He said he will retain the former North End Diner sign and incorporate it into the new Bombers project.

“It’s got some classic memories and there’s a lot of people in the area that remember,” Stoye said about the sign.

Stoye estimates Bombers will open in the fall of 2024.