Loft apartments and rehabbed commercial bays are poised to pop up along Omaha’s historic Auto Row — a stretch once bustling with showrooms of Studebakers, Hudsons and other classic cars.
Behind a venture to repurpose two buildings, both over a century old at 2570 and 2566 Farnam St., is a pair of local development companies that have been reviving the Blackstone District farther west on the same corridor.
It would fuel a slow momentum that area merchants and residents have been trying to stoke in long-neglected pockets between downtown and midtown. Earlier this year, a neighborhood association seeking to bring more attention and business to the area bounded by Dodge, Leavenworth, 20th and 28th Streets rebranded the turf as the Quarters.
While the historic Auto Row is about 10 blocks east of the Blackstone District — where Clarity and GreenSlate have focused most of their other redevelopment efforts — it’s along the same Farnam Street spine.
Tom McLeay of Clarity said he and his partners are interested in seeing that thoroughfare strengthened from the University of Nebraska Medical Center to downtown Omaha.
“It’s the conduit from the riverfront all the way to the med center,” McLeay said of Farnam. McLeay described the Auto Row area as an important connector piece.
As presented this week to the Omaha Planning Board, the GreenSlate-Clarity plan calls for preserving and converting the two Farnam Street buildings that in May were officially deemed historic by the city’s Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission and the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Under the plan, upper levels of the three-story brick and concrete building designed in 1912 by John McDonald for the Drummond Motor Co. would become 20 market-rate apartments. The dwellings would be loft-style with high ceilings, brick walls, wood floors and modern amenities.
Beneath the 2,500 square feet of street-level commercial space, the Drummond also would offer 11,250 square feet of commercial space and an 8,000-square-foot indoor parking garage with 17 spots.
Rent would run about $1,000 for the apartments, McLeay said.
The neighboring Firestone Tire Building, designed by John Latenser, was built in 1915 as a storefront to serve auto dealers including REO, Studebaker, Hupmobile and Cadillac. That structure is to become about 20,000 square feet of leasable retail and office space (three levels are aboveground and one is underground).
The design plan calls for installation of floor-to-ceiling storefront windows along Farnam Street to fit the historical look. Upper-level windows currently bricked over would be replaced. Flowerbeds would sprout in front.
City documents say the project furthers the city’s growth objectives by increasing density of the urban core and offering new options to a “blighted and neglected area.”
The Planning Board has recommended approval of $1 million in tax increment financing, based on an analysis that says that without TIF, the project would not be able to attract enough investor dollars to happen.
Developers also seek about $1 million in federal and state historic tax credits.
They aim to complete renovation in May 2019, and estimate the properties’ value to be $6.3 million upon completion.
Currently, both structures are vacant and were last used by Barnhart Press, which has relocated to the west.
“It’s preserving a piece of Omaha,” McLeay said of the project site. “That two-block stretch on both sides is almost the most intact historic little stretch in Omaha.”
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Two heavy-hitter youth athletic organizations are teaming up to help build a $10 million Elkhorn facility set to sprawl across 135,000 square feet and host up to 400,000 visitors a year. READ MORE.
Rising southeast of 10th Street and Capitol Avenue is a six-story mostly residential structure with ground-floor commercial bays. Capitol Place, as the $27 million project is called, is the dream of two former city officials who are shedding a suburban lifestyle to help build Omaha’s downtown central business district. READ MORE.
Omaha-based Metonic Real Estate Solutions helped refine a project it thinks will target an unmet demand in the west Omaha area. Ravello 192, as it’s called, is planned as a sprawling 11-building town house development offering private entrances and garages for each of the 118 rental residences. READ MORE.
The Rohwer family is one of the last farm families on 204th Street, one of the final few trying to straddle the fuzzy line between this area’s rural past and suburban present. "My life is farming," said Alan Rohwer. "My life is this land." READ MORE.
Omaha’s movers and shakers, with more than half the funds pledged privately, are forging ahead with a $290 million proposal to breathe new life into the city’s downtown riverfront. A conceptual master plan calls for adding spacious lawns for events, a Farnam Street walking promenade that stretches past Eighth Street to the river, a ribbon-shaped rink for ice skating and rollerblading, a water plaza where kids can play and splash, and a dog park. READ MORE.
Alvine Engineering is settling into a new home at 12th and Cass Streets, about four blocks north of the 127-year-old digs it had been in for three decades. The facility marks the first corporate headquarters to be constructed in that downtown area since 2013 when a $44 million, 130,500-square-foot facility at 13th Street and Capitol Avenue was built for grain-trader Gavilon. READ MORE.
Omaha's Intercultural Senior Center is building a 22,000-square-foot facility at 5545 Center St. Construction on the $6.2 million project is expected to be done by 2019. READ MORE.
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska plans to move its health clinic and administrative offices from South Omaha to the vacant former Infogroup headquarters campus near 84th and Q Streets. READ MORE.
The 30 Metro residential and retail complex brings a five-story, $20 million investment to North 30th and Fort Streets. The building includes 110 apartments, 12,000 square feet of commercial bays — and the Icona, a sculpture that stands near the entrance to the 113,000-square-foot complex. READ MORE.
NuStyle Development is poised to convert another downtown Omaha building into housing — replacing much of the Wells Fargo Bank center at 1919 Douglas St. with about 200 apartments and indoor parking. READ MORE.
Officials continue to move closer to developing Lot B, an 8-acre piece of downtown real estate near the CenturyLink Center. Plans calls for a $125 million mixed-use development with restaurants, stores, apartments, open spaces and possibly another hotel. READ MORE.
The former Creighton University Medical Center is becoming the state's largest single structure of market-rate apartments, near 30th and Cuming. READ MORE.
A company that builds senior living communities has staked out an 8-acre spot on Omaha’s sprawling West Farm development. The Avamere Family of Companies, based in the Portland, Oregon, area plans an $84 million project featuring a pair of upscale residential structures with independent senior living, assisted living and memory care units spanning 325,000 square feet. READ MORE.
Several projects in the works could bring bustle back to Omaha's 16th Street corridor. READ MORE.
A growing Omaha-based Baxter Auto Group is revving up with a new corporate headquarters to be built northwest of 168th Street and West Dodge Road, near three dealership structures the company currently has under construction. READ MORE.
A $13 million headquarters for OCI is set to rise northeast of 204th Street and West Maple Road. READ MORE.
All Makes Office Equipment witnesses a revival of Omaha's Farnam Street corridor. READ MORE.
A familiar Old Market warehouse — the 133-year-old Woolworth building — is now 44 residences. The homes were carved out of the top three floors of the five-story structure on the northeast corner of 12th and Howard Streets. READ MORE.
The 130-year-old St. Agnes Catholic Church and related buildings appear headed for the same fate as a few other Omaha parishes in the past few years: The campus at 23rd and Q Streets has been sold to a developer who expects to replace it with rental housing. READ MORE.