Lincoln's mayor has given the ax to three proposals for demolishing the city-owned Pershing Center and redeveloping the property.
Mayor Chris Beutler determined that all three proposals, “would require too much taxpayer support,” Rick Hoppe, the mayor's chief of staff, said Tuesday. “We were concerned about the level of tax dollars needed to make each project work.”
With the $179 million Pinnacle Bank Arena scheduled to open in about a year, the future of the 55-year-old Pershing Center — bracketed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to the north and the State Capitol to the south — has been in question.
One of the proposals from private developers would tear down Pershing and replace it with projects that mix commercial and residential space. However, it would also have to include a library. Hoppe said the city would have received $10 million for the land, but it in turn would have to sign a 30-year lease and pay $2.5 million a year.
A second pitch was made by the Lincoln City Libraries' board of trustees. It would raze Pershing and build a 50,000-square-foot library from the ground up. Hoppe said that idea would cost taxpayers to build the library and would lead to lost property taxes.
The third plan also would have created a mixed-use space. Hoppe said the mayor didn't like that idea, though, because the city would have to sell the land for $1.5 million yet pay $2.5 million to demolish Pershing.
“We didn't feel that any of the proposals would bring enough to what is an important piece of Lincoln to justify tax investments,” Hoppe said.
Now Beutler is looking to request new proposals. But he might put it off a while, in the hopes that the economy improves and the city can get a better deal.
Beutler can choose a proposal, but it's likely that the Lincoln City Council would ultimately have to weigh in.
Since Pershing Center occupies a prime city block along Centennial Mall on the east end of downtown, the Nebraska Capitol Commission would also have to approve a proposal, Hoppe said.
Omaha leaders have grappled with a similar problem with the Civic Auditorium. The Mayor's Office has announced that the 58-year-old building will close in 2014, more than a decade after the CenturyLink Center opened. The city plans to find someone to buy the Civic property, demolish the Civic and redevelop the area.
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