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An empty lot at 1903 S. 7th Street in the Little Italy neighborhood southeast of 10th and Pacific Streets in Omaha on Thursday, July 12, 2018. 

A trendy row house project is to sprout south of downtown Omaha where a family’s flower shop and greenhouse operation once stood.

The 36 for-sale dwellings are to cover about an acre at Seventh and Cedar Streets in one of the city’s oldest residential areas.

Dubbed Dahlman Rows, the $12 million project is to be built a couple of blocks south of a public park that bears the same man’s name. “Cowboy” James Dahlman, a Texan-turned-controversial Nebraska politician, served an unparalleled 20 years as Omaha mayor before he died in 1930.

As proposed, each of the row houses named in his memory would have a rooftop deck, most with scenic views to the east. They’ll have either two or three bedrooms, high-end finishes and range from 1,350 square feet to 1,650 square feet, said Ben Katt of Lincoln, who is leading the development team that also includes Steve Champoux and Peter Katt of Legacy Homes.

The project site formerly was home to Grasso Florist and Greenhouses, a business that began in 1926. In recent years, though, the property was unused, neglected and overgrown with vegetation, notes a city planning memo.

Now vacant, the site is surrounded by small, older homes valued at about $100,000. Neighborhood skepticism has diminished, Katt said, as his team has talked to groups and responded to concerns.

For instance, he said, more brick and front porches were incorporated so the design would fit better with the neighborhood. Each dwelling would have a two-car garage.

Still, John Capellupo and Jim Bogatz, whose separate houses are nearby, said they are not looking forward to the structures, set to rise about three stories, blocking the scenic view families have had for generations.

“It’s going to feel like a cornstalk in a tomato field,” Capellupo said of the project.

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Units will be 1350-1650 sq ft, all will have rooftop decks, all will have 2 car garages 16 units will be 2 bed/2.5 bath, 20 units will be 2bed+ loft/ 3.5 bath.

Another neighbor who balked at the plan has since been bought out, with the developer acquiring his property and using the land to increase the number of row houses from 30 to 36.

Katt said his team had gauged consumer demand, which led them to the for-sale row house style. He sees the nine-building project as an attractive real estate investment, given its proximity to downtown jobs and entertainment.

“There’s not many half blocks left in urban Omaha,” he said.

The Omaha City Council still must approve a zoning change and $1.8 million in tax-increment financing. If all goes as planned, construction should be wrapped up by September 2019, and homes would sell for between $270,000 and $350,000.

In a recommendation to approve TIF and other steps, Planning Director Dave Fanslau said Dahlman Rows fulfills city goals in part by reversing “deterioration in older areas of the central city.”

He said the project increases population density, thereby helping to reduce per capita costs of public utilities and infrastructure. And, he said, the proposed row house style is in relatively short supply.

Cedar Street, as it runs alongside the project site, currently is a gravel road that would be paved and improved with lighting, curbs, gutters and landscaping.

Neighbors are happy about that, Katt said.

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