The Omaha Housing Authority can rent its downtown office building back from Douglas County for $1 a month, if the county’s purchase of the building goes through.

The Douglas County Board approved the tentative lease deal Tuesday. The county has agreed to buy the OHA building at 1805 Harney St. for $2.75 million. The Housing Authority would move to 1823 Harney St., the historic original Omaha Public Library building. The Housing Authority is buying the former library for $2.75 million, and the agency’s sale of its headquarters to the county is contingent on the library building purchase going through.

The Housing Authority might need to stay in its current building for a while after the sale. The agreement approved Tuesday would give the agency a 90-day lease for $1 a month that could be extended further month to month. It would require the Housing Authority to pay for utilities and repairs, Deputy County Attorney Theresia Urich told the County Board.

The county is buying the OHA building and its parking lot as part of an effort to assemble land for a possible courthouse expansion and county office complex.

County Board Member Jim Cavanaugh, a critic of the process and prospective building plan, questioned the $1 a month rent. Patrick Bloomingdale, the county’s chief administrative officer, said the rent was designed so that the transaction would be as close to revenue neutral as possible for the Housing Authority.

“They certainly didn’t have to move, but they agreed to move,” Bloomingdale said.

The vote to approve the lease was 4-1. Mike Boyle, Clare Duda, Marc Kraft and Chris Rodgers voted yes. Cavanaugh voted no. P.J. Morgan abstained because an executive from his real estate company is involved in the Housing Authority’s library building purchase.

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Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.

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