The Omaha Library Board of Trustees will likely meet next week for a vote that could bring the city one step closer to the relocation of its largest library.
If board members move forward with a special meeting planned for Jan. 6, the nine members will meet in the downtown W. Dale Clark Library to decide whether to approve lease agreements for two locations that would house the library’s public and administrative services.
The W. Dale Clark Library has for 45 years claimed a space just south of Dodge Street and west of the Gene Leahy Mall. The building’s days are numbered, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced in November.
Under a proposed plan, the library’s public services will move to 1401 Jones St., where the city will lease a building for $465,000 per year on a 10-year lease. After five years, the city will have the option to opt out of the lease or purchase the building.
The structure is a few blocks south of the library’s current location and will need to be renovated, which is expected to cost $3 million — an expense split by the city and the building’s current owner, White Lotus Group.
Administrative offices and distribution will move to a vacant Shopko store at 84th and Frederick Streets. The city will pay $500,000 to remodel that space and $405,000 per year to lease it under a 10-year lease.
Some community members have questioned the timing of the plan. Others have raised concerns about the proposed move, including accessibility issues with the Jones Street location and financial questions that have yet to be answered.
Demolition of the W. Dale Clark building would open up a prime location for redevelopment, which Stothert hopes will coincide with the reopening of the Gene Leahy Mall.
If approved by the library board and then the Omaha City Council, the new downtown location is expected to open in the fall.
The City of Omaha has said it plans to hire a consultant to assist in the move.