You could soon walk around with your alcoholic drinks in an outdoor plaza area in Aksarben Village the next time you head there for dinner or a hockey game.
Developers of a building that will house HDR’s new headquarters are asking the city to designate the street-level plaza between the office building and a parking garage as an “entertainment district.”
Such districts let people take alcoholic beverages outside of bars and restaurants and into a designated common area.
The Omaha City Council will discuss and vote on the proposal at its Tuesday meeting.
The Aksarben area’s application, submitted by developer Noddle Companies, shows the entertainment district in its first phase as a 20,400-square-foot outdoor space between the new HDR corporate headquarters on the corner of 67th and Frances Streets and a garage directly east.
A rendering shows a number of retail spaces between HDR’s new building and the nearby garage.
HDR has said its employees are expected to move into the new 10-story headquarters by the end of the year.
A company spokeswoman said Friday that the move is in full swing. The engineering and architecture firm chose to move its operations from 84th and Dodge Streets to Aksarben instead of a downtown site.
If approved by the City Council, the entertainment district would not encompass the entire Aksarben development near the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Baxter Arena, where UNO’s hockey team plays.
But Noddle proposes that the district grow in phases as the area develops.
In the final phase shown, the plaza would be almost 33,000 square feet and stretch north to Shirley Street.
The idea of the entertainment district is that people are able to take their drinks from nearby retail spaces, likely restaurants and bars, and into the common plaza area. Those restaurants and bars haven’t been announced.
When the district would go into effect depends on construction, contracts with tenants and when the establishments apply for liquor licenses and entertainment district designations, said Will Acosta-Trejo, a city attorney.
Aksarben’s developers have long said they were interested in applying for the designation; the downtown Capitol District was the first to apply.
Omaha started allowing the districts early last year.
The city modeled its ordinance after the one in Lincoln, where people can move about with their drinks in a common area at the Railyard. Entertainment zones in other cities include Kansas City’s Power & Light District.
Omaha’s Capitol District has been more restrictive than some people expected. Earlier this year, a co-owner of the Capitol bars Annie’s Irish Pub, Beer Can Alley and The Exchange told The World-Herald that the district was in effect only on weekends when bar staffing was full and a security team was on-site to monitor the plaza area.
The Aksarben district’s application to the city lists its hours of operation as 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day of the week. It’s unclear if those are the hours the district would be operational, or just hours in which it could be operational.
Ted Zetzman, executive vice president and director of development at Noddle, declined to comment on the proposal. The development group owns the building that will house HDR.
Noddle’s application for the district calls for a promotional association made up of area tenants that would help coordinate security and more within the common plaza. The association would require tenants to serve alcohol in a glass or cup with the tenant’s logo or other designation, and possibly a statement letting people know that they can’t leave the plaza with the container.
Renderings also show large planters and benches that could be moved around to help reconfigure the space.