A proposal to demolish a historic midtown Omaha building inspired an impassioned debate Wednesday at City Hall.
More than 60 people attended the Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission meeting.
Most opposed a proposal to remove the landmark status of the century-old Clarinda-Page residential complex, whose white columns and red brick walls are a familiar sight at the intersection of Turner Boulevard and Farnam Street.
Representatives of Mutual of Omaha and Clarinda-Page condominium owners want its landmark status removed.
The commission heard two hours of testimony at a public hearing Wednesday. Then members voted to postpone a decision until March.
A Mutual of Omaha-related firm has a contract to buy the Clarinda-Page condos, but only if the landmark status is removed. Mutual wants to clear and redevelop the site.
Condo owner Jack Henry told the panel the condo development has failed. He said his $97,500 condo is now valued at only $42,000, and the Mutual purchase is his only way out.
Attorney Larry Jobeun argued that the complex isn’t architecturally significant, condo owners are in a bind and it’s not financially feasible to rehabilitate the complex.
Historic preservationists and several neighbors contended that the complex should be saved because it is unique, historically significant and can be salvaged. Architect Joe Saniuk urged the commission to consider the complex an “opportunity, not an obstacle.”
Whatever the commission decides will be only a recommendation. The decision lies with the Omaha City Council.