Editor's Note: This story originally was published in the April 4, 1984 edition of the Omaha World-Herald
They won't have running water, but they will have heat and lights.
They won't have hinged doors, but they will have working windows.
They're bus shelters that will cost $50,000 apiece.
City Planner Greg Peterson said they're a bargain at that price.
The City Planning Department wants to build 10 of the shelters along the proposed pedestrian shopping mall on 16th Street downtown.
The city recently asked the MAT board to apply for $400,000 in federal funds to pay for the bus shelters. The city would put up the remaining $100,000.
The board put off a decision until at least the end of April while the city gets more precise figures on the cost of the shelters. The common Omaha bus shelters cost about $4,000.
According to the Omaha Area Board of Realtors, the average Omaha house sells for about $58,000.
For $50,000 you could buy a house about 25 years old, with 1,000 square feet, two medium-sized or three small bedrooms, one to 1 1/2 bathrooms, and possibly central air conditioning and a finished basement, according to the board of realtors.
For its $50,000, the department wants to build shelters that will be heated and lighted, with windows that can be opened during warm weather. They would have a granite base, a copper roof, Alaskan yellow cedar wood benches and half-inch tempered glass for windows, among other things.
Each would be about 12 feet high and 14 feet wide.
The shelters, which resemble Japanese pagodas, were designed by two architectural firms CHNMB Associates of San Francisco and Bahr, Vermeer and Haecker of Omaha that collaborated in the design of the 16th Street Mall.
Peterson said the shelters will fit the image the city wants to create at the new mall.
"Portland (Ore.) spent $76,000 for these type of shelters six years ago, " he said. "We're trying to make this a place that looks nice where people enjoy being. We want them to be more than average shelters. They're going to be really nice."
Peterson said the city is developing the 16th Street Mall with the same goals as when it created the Central Park Mall.
"We tried to make the mall a pleasant place to be, " he said.
"We wanted to attract businesses to the area around it. And we were able to sell a parking lot across the street for $3 million to make way for a $40 million building as one example."
Farm Credit Banks of Omaha is planning to build its new $40 million headquarters at 13th and Farnam Streets across from the Central Park Mall.
The city plans to spend $2.9 million to convert 16th Street between Dodge and Harney Streets into a mall by narrowing it from four to two lanes and by constructing wider sidewalks dotted with trees, bushes, a fountain, other decorative landscaping and the shelters.
Construction is to begin next month and is scheduled for completion by Jan. 1. The mall may be extended to Howard Street in 1986.
Peterson said the proposed mall already has paid off with two new private projects on which construction has begun: the ParkFair Shopping Center at 16th and Douglas Streets and conversion of the old Regis Hotel at 16th and Harney Streets into condominiums and a retail center.
Peterson and his family recently spent about 200 hours constructing together a colorful one-sixteenth scale model of a shelter.
"There'd been a lot of talk about them, but they're hard to visualize unless you've got something there to see, " he said. "I think they're going to look fantastic."