The Roman Catholic religious order Servants of Mary has been looking for years to sell part of its Omaha property near Marian High School to a neighbor who shares the same values.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Sheltering Tree nonprofit organization have been looking for a place to build more apartments for developmentally disabled adults.

The two interests appear to be converging.

Sheltering Tree wants to build 24 apartments on vacant land on the northwest corner of 72nd Street at Ames Circle, between the sisters' convent and 72nd Street, north of Military Road.

The apartments, in a single building, would provide independent living for 22 disabled people, plus homes for two resident managers. The residents would receive such services as life skills and job training, and personal counseling.

The development is not a sure thing yet, said Shirley McNally, founder and president of Sheltering Tree. The organization is still waiting for some grant funding and is early in the process of formal government approval.

It took a step toward that approval Wednesday when the Omaha Planning Board voted 7-0 to recommend that the City Council grant a special use permit needed for group living at the site.

The Servants of Mary, also known as Servites, and Marian High School, which the order founded and still guides spiritually, support the project.

The Servants of Mary would sell about 2 acres of land to Sheltering Tree, and members would seek to volunteer at the apartments, said Sister Mary Gehringer, U.S. community prioress of the Servants of Mary.

The apartment development would cost about $4.5 million. The sources of money would include Nebraska Investment Finance Authority low-income housing tax credits, and city and state grants, according to documents submitted to the Planning Board.

It would be the second such apartment building developed by Sheltering Tree. The first, at Gregg and Galvin Roads in Bellevue, opened in 2014.

Construction of the new building could begin with earthwork this fall and be completed by December 2016, McNally said.

The one-bedroom apartments would be handicapped accessible, she said. Residents would have access to a community room, theater/movie room, on-site laundry and exercise equipment.

Rent would be about $650.

McNally, who has a develop mentally disabled adult son, said safe independent-living arrangements are in short supply.

"What we are all about is giving a person who has developmental disabilities a normal life, that they can live where they want to live, work and volunteer in the community," McNally said.

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