Logan building

The Logan building, at 1802 Dodge Street in Omaha

The historic Logan building — which has sat vacant for more than a decade at 18th and Dodge Streets — appears headed for change.

Spanning more than 80,000 square feet, the almost 100-year-old structure whose past included use as a hotel, apartments and a pawn shop sold last month to an entity called 1802 Acquisition LLC.

A Lincoln lawyer representing the investors, who paid $770,000, said they declined to comment on their plans. It’s unknown, therefore, whether the prominent fixture on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares is to be rehabilitated and repurposed or razed.

Tuesday, construction workers were in the west part of the structure. A door to the east was flagged with a “Danger — Closed” placard from the City of Omaha that says the building is unsafe and unfit for human occupancy.

The 1802 Dodge property has been the target of at least one unsuccessful redevelopment effort in the last 10 years. A Kansas City-based developer’s 2008 vision to convert the property into affordable apartments never materialized.

At the time, the developer said his proposed $13.6 million project would help meet a “strong need” for downtown workforce housing. He described the Logan as in poor condition but “recoverable.”

Since that failure, the economy has revved up again; numerous housing and other building projects have sprouted in Omaha’s downtown area.

Among them are NuStyle Development market-rate apartment complexes, the Wire and the Slate, which are neighbors to the Logan. Both converted office buildings are along 19th Street; one is just south of Dodge and the other is just north.

To the west of the Logan, in the flying saucer-shaped building attached to the Slate, a bike shop has settled in.

To the north is the Civic Auditorium redevelopment site, which could further bolster that area, said John Heine of Investors Realty.

“Eventually, something will happen with it,” Heine said of the former auditorium grounds. In 2014, Mayor Jean Stothert chose Tetrad Property Group to demolish and develop the auditorium site bounded by Capitol Avenue and 17th, 19th and Chicago Streets.

The area was cleared in late 2016. Meanwhile, Tetrad’s initial $300 million proposal (which included an office tower and residential buildings with retail and office space) has been modified. Construction has yet to start.

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Omaha business leaders focused on developing the city’s riverfront have toured developments in other cities and plan another public meeting in Omaha this week. But that group's progress comes as a separate group that had been trying to bring more life to the riverfront undergoes changes after losing its director of less than a year.

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Owner Christian Christensen said he sought to create an “intimate” setting — with art and amenities including urban garden plots, a spa for pets and a gym for humans that looks onto an outdoor courtyard with a swimming pool, grills and fire pit. He envisions fast-paced residents coming home and changing gears.

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The pair of new construction projects — dubbed Blackstone Station and Blackstone Union — ushered in a different level of lender confidence, said area real estate leaders. The apartment buildings have their grand opening this week on the historic commercial strip.

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The 64-unit structure stands out among other neighboring buildings because new owner InCommon Community Development bought it with the specific intent to keep rents low for residents such as Brooklyn and Eisenauer, even after a planned revamp.

Of the Logan, Heine said he walked through the property with a client about three years ago and saw potential, along with lots of dead pigeons, rabbits and squirrels.

Any real estate project on the popular Dodge corridor has a running start at success, he said. Across the street from the Logan is St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. New and renovated apartments around the Logan enjoy high occupancy, although Heine noted that mounting competition and more apartment building could affect future demand.

The Logan was elevated to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, deemed significant for its association with changes in Omaha’s street elevation (which were aimed at making the city more accessible to automobile owners) and with the city’s post-World War I building boom and rental housing market.

The re-grading of Dodge Street hadn’t yet started when the Logan was built in 1918 for Fireproof Building Co., and it opened with a single entrance off of Dodge. Major renovations related to the street-reshaping project soon led to another prominent entry on the eastern half of the structure and expanded street-level storefront space.

According to the historic nomination, the structure was acquired by Omaha hotelier and airport namesake Eugene Eppley in 1927 and renamed the Logan Apartments. It continued to function as an apartment hotel.

In 1956, Eppley sold the Logan to another hotel chain, which changed the building’s name. In 1968, it was sold to Wellington Associates and renamed the Logan.

The property changed hands a few more times, and businesses that operated out of the street-level bays have included American Savings, a bar, a dry cleaner, a pizza parlor and an off-track betting business and a pawn shop.

The building has been deteriorating in recent years. In 2013, firefighters found a man dead in an elevator. Officials said that there was no foul play and that the man died of smoke inhalation. A code inspector reported last year that the building was being used by trespassers, including high school students and vagrants.

Jay Davis, Omaha’s superintendent of permits and inspections, said the city has issued an order that the structure be demolished.

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