Now bigger and pricier, the proposed Dundee Flats retail and residential structure aims to fit in yet bring a few modern touches to the surrounding historic neighborhood.

Area residents say they like the way the Sage Capital project has shaped up since plans were revealed last October for the multilevel apartment building on the southeast corner of 49th and Dodge Streets.

“It’s a winner,” said Adam Langdon, leader of the Dundee-Memorial Park Association. “What is there now is aged and sort of past its life. We look forward to a great welcoming structure to our neighborhood.”

Aaron Moser, president of Omaha-based Sage Capital, said project details still could shift before construction as he continues to seek neighborhood input and final City Council approval.

But recent acquisition of two more properties already has expanded the earlier site plan to nearly an acre on the south side of Dodge, east of 49th Street. Before, Sage had secured only the corner transmission shop and its neighbor to the east.

Moser said the goal always was to assemble the four contiguous and worn properties west of the six-year-old Children’s Physicians facility, but getting there was a challenge.

“We didn’t want to build a building where there was a converted house from the ’50s next door,” he said.

The purchase of the converted house and its neighbor have raised what before was at least an $8 million project to a nearly $11 million, four-story project.

About 2,500 square feet of retail shops are planned on the ground level, and about 65 apartments will be on upper levels. Plans also call for on-site parking, much of it enclosed.

The latest design infuses more reddish brick and storefront glass. Wood was added to the top-story facade to give it an overall “softer” appearance, said Moser.

Sage has requested city approval for $1.6 million in tax-increment financing.

Langdon said the neighborhood association has been pleased with the developer’s outreach. Sage has put iterations of its project on the neighborhood group’s Facebook page, prompting feedback from some of the 900-plus followers.

That’s a “bit daring and brave” move that Langdon said he appreciated from the developer. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

One neighbor, for instance, wanted to know why an earlier rendering did not include Dundee-style light posts. Moser commented that it was a good catch and would be handled.

Typical concerns about parking and traffic flow continue to be discussed, Langdon said.

Sage, in its marketing materials, has solicited investors. Moser said the project has generated interest because of its community impact, but the firm has enough financial backing to complete the building even without more investors, he said.

In a historical narrative, Sage noted that the historic Dundee Happy Hollow district was founded in 1880. The mostly residential area began to take on a commercial flavor in 1912 with construction of a local grocery store and drugstore on the northwest corner of 49th and Dodge.

In 2010, the Children’s facility was built at 4825 Dodge, just east of the proposed Dundee Flats site. In 2011, CVS opened a new store to the north, and the neighboring historic building was restored and has multiple commercial tenants.

Moser said Dundee Flats is tailored for University of Nebraska Medical Center students and employees, with a fitness room, Wi-Fi-equipped study rooms and bus route access.

Planned on the third floor, facing Dodge, is an outdoor common area with a hot tub.

Langdon said neighbors appear eager for the transformation. He said the Dundee Flats project — along with a separate redevelopment of the Dundee Theater and Old Dundee Bar & Grill into a second Film Streams site — has sparked discussion about the need for further updating of other nearby spots along the Dodge corridor.

(Susie Buffett’s Sherwood Foundation earlier this year purchased the landmark Dundee Theater and surrounding properties and is donating the cinema to Film Streams. The bar and grill is to close to make room for more lobby, concessions and programming space.)

The expanded theater is to open by 2018.

If all goes as planned for Dundee Flats, demolition could begin next month, Moser said. Sage is teaming up with Ronco Construction and RDG Planning & Design.

Moser told Facebook followers that his hope is to create a “graceful” entrance into a storied area.

Mimicking a historic structure, he said, would seem phony. At the same time, too modern of an exterior would be out of place.

Said Moser: “We feel that the building is a great representation of old and new, and will be around for many years.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1224, cindy.gonzalez@owh.com

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