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Five-story apartment building will rise in midtown Omaha
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Five-story apartment building will rise in midtown Omaha

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The Blackstone District has revealed plans for a streetscape makeover expected to boost pedestrian safety and commerce by widening sidewalks and narrowing driving lanes along the trendy midtown Omaha strip.

A five-story apartment building project that was earlier rejected for an area northwest of 30th Avenue and Mason Street now has a green light from City of Omaha planners.

The building will contain 82 rental units above a ground-floor parking structure.

City planners said earlier that the project was incompatible with the surrounding midtown Omaha neighborhood and recommended in August that the Omaha Planning Board deny the proposal. Uptown Properties LLC has since revised the plan. 

The plan now calls for 80 parking stalls, 50 in the building and the rest around it. The applicant has also coordinated with the Omaha Public Power District on the location of electrical service lines on the property.

The Planning Board has recommended approval.


Looking back at Omaha's redevelopment projects and projecting the future

In the Redefining Downtown series, Cindy Gonzalez examines Omaha’s major redevelopment efforts over the past 50 years: How we got here, how it worked out, and where we are going.

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Gene Leahy Mall set the stage for generations of downtown development in Omaha. Many of the major downtown changes of the past five decades likely owe at least something to the mall’s creation.

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At some points during the past year, the mall’s flat, bare dirt expanse looks surprisingly close to the way it appeared in a 1975 photo, after crews removed the buildings but before they dug a lagoon. 

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When a historic building in downtown Omaha was about to be razed in 1988, preservationists were able to save its facade for future use. Three decades later, where did the Scribbles facade go?

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Hubs of commerce, housing, offices and entertainment are growing across the city. Given such thriving activity outside Omaha's urban core: Why is it so important to have a vibrant downtown anyway?

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Conagra wasn't the first or the last time that Omaha's corporate powers have flexed their muscles to shape downtown. But the effort stands out because it involved the destruction of Jobbers Canyon.

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Many downtown Omaha warehouses have since been turned into cool housing and commercial space, but the market for such conversion hadn't blossomed yet when the Jobbers Canyon district was demolished. 

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Today, Omaha's 16th Street corridor is but a shadow of its heyday. Department stores of yesteryear have been replaced by stretches of parking garages and aging structures. Not all is bleak, though.

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Chances are only a fraction of people may be aware of the history behind the downtown Omaha monuments that adorn the busy crossroads where Abbott Drive meets Cuming and 10th Streets.

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The historic area stands out also because early growth of Omaha's Old Market was steered privately by the Mercer family, which owned a sizable chunk of the properties.

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Housing is a dominant driver of construction in downtown Omaha, historically the base for department stores and corporate employers. The hope is that the energy also reignites the downtown job market.

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An Omaha landmark, the former leather supply building at 714 S. 15th St., has been turned into five contemporary homes covered with the original 1910 brick skin and other vintage features.

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Developer Mike Moylan credits Omaha business leaders and philanthropists for nudging downtown expansion and "understanding how important a strong urban core is."

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Reporter - Money

Cindy covers housing, commercial real estate development and more for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @cgonzalez_owh. Phone: 402-444-1224.

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