Longtime critics of Omaha landlord Dave Paladino, a frequent target of tenant complaints, have wondered whether he had turned a new leaf or was simply behaving better because the city had something he wanted.
City housing inspectors and others should find out soon, after the City Council basically killed his tax-increment financing bid for two historic apartment buildings near downtown.
The council did so by voting unanimously to put the request on file. That means it won’t come back to a council agenda unless a council member requests it. Based on comments several of them made Tuesday, that prospect seems unlikely.
Council President Ben Gray said he wouldn’t support any TIF project for Paladino. Council members Aimee Melton, Brinker Harding and Pete Festersen hinted that they were inclined to vote against the proposal.
Even Councilman Chris Jerram, who said he was encouraged by the work Paladino had done, said he would support putting the TIF application on file.
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Paladino, who owns Dino’s Storage, has faced a history of housing complaints. Council President Ben Gray and local advocates for renters call him a slumlord.
They point to the rental properties Paladino owns that the city said run afoul of housing code more often than many of his peers.
Tenants have complained of rodents, mold, bugs and other problems.
But in recent months, the city’s chief housing inspector, Scott Lane, said Paladino has worked to address problems. All but two of Paladino’s properties have been fixed.
Critics say Paladino only turned things around after applying for $285,000 in TIF to revive two buildings near 22nd and Jones Streets. The buildings are known as the Ainsworth and Beverly Apartments.
Paladino, in an interview late Tuesday, said he would keep working with the city and its inspectors on behalf of his tenants.
“If people understood our hearts, they’d know,” he said. “We want to work with the city.”
He said he did not yet know what would happen to the two buildings in the absence of TIF. All options are on the table, he said, including demolition. But he said he has a soft spot for older buildings and would try to save them.