After North Gold Coast neighbors object, couple take vision for dream home elsewhere

This is one of the redesigns of the home that Charlie Yin and Jennifer Cooke-Yin wanted to build in the North Gold Coast area. The couple also sought help from a landmarks commission.

The Omaha couple who had hoped to build their half-million-dollar dream house on a longtime vacant lot in the historic North Gold Coast area have ended their battle.

“We're done,” said Charlie Yin, a partner in the Hiro restaurants of Omaha and Lincoln. “We're just frustrated with the lack of clarity and transparency in the process.”

Yin and his wife, lawyer Jennifer Cooke-Yin, for the past three months have been seeking permission from the nine-member Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission to build a new house at 403 N. 38th St., a lot that had sat empty for at least a century.

What initially was a warm reception turned cold, at least from a contingent of neighbors who said the proposed Mid-Century Modern style home would disrupt the historic feel of the North Gold Coast's mansion row.

After months of back-and-forth with neighbors and the commission — which holds decision-making power because the lot is in a designated city landmark district — the Yins and their architect were asked to meet with two commission subcommittees to clarify what might be acceptable.

Jeff Dolezal of TACKarchitects said he and his clients were disheartened when, at the first meeting scheduled last week, only one of the three subcommittee members showed. “That spoke volumes,” he said.

Yin said the house already had gone through two redesigns based on neighbor concerns. He and his wife felt they were not receiving specific enough guidance and were worried about the mounting expense of architectural work as well as modifications that took the design further and further from their dream house.

While the process allows the Yins to appeal a Landmarks Commission decision to the City Council or to District Court, the Yins decided to shift their energy.

“We're looking elsewhere,” said Yin, who hadn't finalized the purchase of the previous lot in the West Central-Cathedral Landmark Heritage District.

Largely because they haven't bought it yet, the Yins prefer not to provide details on their next lot choice, other than to say it also is in an urban neighborhood of Omaha. Dolezal said the couple have talked to a few neighbors and don't expect resistance.

As for the house design, it likely will return to the original modern industrial style that the Yins first submitted.

“We'll go modern all the way,” said Dolezal.

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