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Lewis & Clark Landing overhaul will feature boardwalk, urban beach, sand volleyball
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Lewis & Clark Landing overhaul will feature boardwalk, urban beach, sand volleyball

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lewisandclarkvolleyball

When Lewis & Clark Landing reopens in 2023, it will feature four sand volleyball courts, as seen in this artistic rendering.

Lewis & Clark Landing offers some picturesque views of the Missouri River, but the downtown Omaha park isn’t necessarily the kind of place the city would include on a postcard.

There’s plenty of concrete for festivals, events and parking. The marina is currently closed, and part of its dock is askew, resting on a sandbar. Other than a couple memorials and some red umbrellas for shade, its features are few.

That’s all set to change soon. The landing is scheduled to close to the public Sept. 21, and when it reopens in 2023, it should be a riverfront destination.

lewisandclarkriverfront

Updates to Lewis & Clark Landing, set to close to the public later this month, will feature a scenic boardwalk along the Missouri River, an urban beach with fire pits and sand volleyball courts with nearby green space.

The upcoming closure marks a major milestone in the $300 million project to renovate the Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing. By the end of the month, all three parks will be closed and under construction.

Private donors are supplying about $250 million. The City of Omaha is chipping in the other $50 million in bonds and about $3 million a year for maintenance. Each park will keep its individual name, but project leaders are tying the area together under the name The RiverFront.

Lewis & Clark Landing’s overhaul calls for four sand volleyball courts with nearby green space and shade structures, a scenic boardwalk, an urban beach that will include fire pits and a “destination playground” for kids to expend some energy.

Last month, community leaders unveiled another jewel of Lewis & Clark Landing’s renovation: A $101 million science center that backers hope will rank among the nation’s best.

The 23-acre park is tucked between the river, the National Park Service building near the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, CHI Health Center property and Interstate 480.

When the landing closes, access to Riverfront Drive, which cuts north to south through the park, will be restricted between the CHI Health Center’s Lot A entrance and the National Park Service building.

People will still be able to access the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge by approaching the plaza on the south side of the CHI Health Center and walking across the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge, which eventually connects to the Bob.

Access to Gallup, the Riverfront Place condominium complex and the National Park Service building will be available from Abbot Drive.

LCL (copy)

A rendering shows what Lewis & Clark Landing will look like after a renovation. The park is being redesigned as part of a $300 million public-private overhaul of three downtown parks.

Kristyna Engdahl, spokeswoman for Omaha’s Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, said project leaders have decided to leave some of the landing’s concrete pad in place for festivals like Taste of Omaha that bring a lot of people and heavy equipment to the area. But the renovation will add plenty of trees and greenery, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, she said.

MECA is managing the renovations of the three parks for the city.

The Gene Leahy Mall, which closed for construction in March 2019, will be the first park to reopen, scheduled for the summer of 2022. The mall’s lagoon is no more, and the area has mostly been raised to street level.

Crews are preparing to fill in a final section with a mix of soil that will eventually support a great lawn. The soil combination was chosen to help keep the grass lush and vibrant and “give it a fighting chance to accommodate hundreds of people” walking on it, Engdahl said.

Other work in the mall this fall:

Crews will begin pouring concrete that will support seating areas and the footing for artwork and sculptures that will populate the park. Construction will begin on the decking of a few pedestrian bridges that will span a bioswale, a sort of trench that collects rainwater and is filled with plant life.

Workers will also begin to install the infrastructure that will support water features — a splash pad to be called the Cascades and a shallow cove where people will be able to bring toy boats. They will be located near the 10th Street bridge between the Burlington Capital building and the Greenhouse Apartments.

lewisandclarkplayground

New features at Lewis & Clark Landing, scheduled to reopen in 2023, will include a destination playground, part of which can be seen in this rendering.

“I think we’re going to make some exciting progress this fall,” Engdahl said.

Heartland of America Park, located near the Conagra campus, closed to the public in November. Renovations at that park will expand green space to allow people to walk from the leveled-off Gene Leahy Mall all the way to the Missouri River.

Heartland, scheduled to reopen in fall 2023, will have an area to host food trucks, a seasonal market, a tiered botanical garden and a skating ribbon that shifts from smooth concrete in the summer to ice in the winter.

With two parks under construction already, and other downtown projects underway, downtown workers and residents have been dealing with some dirt and dust flying through the air and coating surfaces.

Engdahl said crews spray the dirt and surrounding access roads with water periodically to help control dust. The frequency of spraying depends on how dry and windy it is. They also spray the dirt as it’s delivered, and sweeper trucks are deployed to clean nearby streets.


Omaha’s Gene Leahy Mall through the years

reece.ristau@owh.com, 402-444-1127, @reecereports

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Reece covers Omaha City Hall, including the City Council and Mayor's Office, and how decisions by local leaders affect Omaha residents. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL graduate. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127​

Related to this story

  • Updated

The effects of the coronavirus haven't slowed progress on the $300 million overhaul of the Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing, project leaders say. Now more than a year into construction, the entity managing the projects has released new conceptual images and updates to help you daydream about brighter days.

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