11th and Douglas

The city’s $10 million plan to buy three properties at the corner of 11th and Douglas Streets seems to assure that HDR will move its headquarters downtown and the Holland Center will have room to expand.

Omahans will get a chance Tuesday to tell the City Council what they think about the Holland Center’s plans for expansion.

The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on an amendment to the city’s Downtown Northeast Redevelopment Plan.

The amendment would start the process of allowing the Holland Center to expand eastward. It also would lay the groundwork for the city to spend $11 million in redevelopment bonds for the project.

That figure includes $10 million for the city to buy three century-old buildings, plus $300,000 for a nearby plot of land and other transaction costs.

The city then would give that property to Omaha Performing Arts, which operates the Holland Center.

Performing Arts officials say the Holland Center needs additional space, in part, because HDR Inc. plans to build its new international headquarters on a lot currently used for Holland Center parking.

The performing arts organization originally said it intended to tear down the three buildings to make way for a parking garage.

Amid protests from people who want to preserve the buildings, arts officials now say there are no firm plans for the space.

Mayor Jean Stothert has urged the organization to find a way to preserve the Christian Specht building, which is designated as a local landmark.

The plan before the council Tuesday offers few new details about the proposed Holland expansion.

Generally, Holland leaders have said the expansion is likely to include space for parking, Holland administrative offices, educational and performance programs and retail businesses. The current site of the three buildings would be a mixed-use facility, most likely including new parking for a new facility.

But officials say no final decisions have been made.

The plan says the developer would consult local historic preservation organizations before undertaking any expansion.

The amendment would not approve the spending of redevelopment bonds. Council members will be asked to vote on that later.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Legislative Chambers at the City-County Building, 1819 Farnam St.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1084, roseann.moring@owh.com

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