Omaha city officials expect a new plan to speed up the revitalization of a part of north downtown Omaha that has been slower to grow than neighboring blocks.
The plan calls for the city to commit up to $20 million in redevelopment bonds for property acquisition, demolition, site preparation and other costs, beginning with $6.6 million for Kiewit’s headquarters next year.
If the City Council approves the plan, it would also commit the city to using eminent domain to acquire property for the projects, if necessary. And it would make tax-increment financing, or TIF, available to qualifying projects. Kiewit would not use TIF for its headquarters.
Noddle Development is working on the effort along with Kiewit, Creighton University, First National Bank and Union Pacific.
The Omaha Planning Board voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that the City Council approve the redevelopment plan.
Jennifer Taylor, a city attorney, told the Omaha Planning Board on Wednesday that some parts of north downtown have developed quickly.
“But this particular area has not enjoyed that same degree of redevelopment,” Taylor said.
She said city officials hope the Kiewit headquarters and the Builder’s District plan will spur more growth. There are, she said, a number of under-utilized properties in the area, including vacant warehouses.
Of course, there are a number of going concerns as well, including Max I. Walker Cleaners & Launderers commercial uniform business and Sol’s Jewelry and Loan’s store and warehouses. Noddle said he has been having good conversations with owners of both businesses about acquiring their property.
Rob Walker, president of Max I. Walker, said he has been involved in conversations with Noddle for several months. Walker called the talks “very pleasant conversations.” He said Noddle has been helpful and understanding about the company’s needs as a fifth-generation family-owned industry with 60 employees. He said they’re not just talking about a building acquisition, they’re talking about relocating a busy manufacturing plant.
The discussions are ongoing, Walker said.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to be a partner for a very great thing for our community and our city,” he said.
The owner of Sol’s, Bruce Kaiman, could not be reached for comment.
The plan envisions several office buildings, hundreds of apartments or condos and a small amount of retail and restaurants. The Union Pacific child care could be expanded. Athletic fields could be moved from the center of Creighton’s campus to the area. Noddle said it could fill up the rest of the area from Creighton’s Morrison Stadium to TD Ameritrade Park, and from Interstate 480 to Cuming Street.
He told the Planning Board the investment could total $300 million if done today. Noddle said he expected it to occur in fewer than 10 years.
Kevin Andersen, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Jean Stothert, said some of the redevelopment bond money the city will use on the Kiewit headquarters project was made available by the city’s removing a proposed Crossroads Mall redevelopment from its 2019 capital improvement program. The mall project stalled, with developers not meeting deadlines for progress.
But Andersen said that was not a “dollar for dollar” reallocation of funding, and that it does not preclude future city assistance for Crossroads redevelopment.
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