Most days, La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig carves out time to drive down 84th Street. Sometimes he’ll park somewhere between Harrison Street and Giles Road to eat his lunch — and reflect on the newly changing face of the city he leads.
Those changes are part of a package of redevelopment efforts that city leaders say will give La Vista the modern downtown it has historically lacked.
The heart of the redevelopment that’s beginning to materialize is City Centre, a 34-acre mixed-use complex between Park View Boulevard and Giles Road where Walmart used to sit.
When everything is complete, the $235 million project will boast retail shopping, dining, residential and office space over about 300,000 square feet. There are also plans for an indoor-outdoor music venue.
Adjacent Civic Center Park, formerly La Vista Falls Golf Course, will feature lakes, trails and more.
The final piece of the facelift is the Corridor 84 Streetscape Project, involving archways, pedestrian bridges, an underpass, wider sidewalks, more lighting and more trees along 84th from Harrison to Giles.
Rita Ramirez, La Vista’s assistant city administrator, said the redevelopment efforts are “setting the tone for the future of the city for a lot of years to come. This is probably the biggest thing the city of La Vista has ever done.”
Drive by City Centre today, and you’ll see the framework of three anchor tenants. One is a five-story residential and commercial building that will include 156 apartments and see occupancy as soon as June with completion anticipated in October.
A parking garage near the mixed-use buildings also is expected to be completed by fall.
Four standalone businesses in City Centre are already locked down: First National Bank, McDonald’s, Rocket Car Wash and Chili’s.
The multimillion-dollar question: What other businesses will plant a flag in La Vista’s new digs?
That piece is up to the developer, City Ventures. Chris Erickson of City Ventures is keeping quiet for now.
‘‘La Vista City Centre is coming along nicely and we expect to have some exciting announcements about tenants for the project very soon,” he wrote in a statement. “Construction is on-schedule and we intend to open the first apartments along with a portion of the retail this summer. This first phase of the project should be completed in 2020.”
“We’re as anxious as anybody to find out some more specifics,” said Kindig, the mayor. “I think it’s going to fulfill the vision we had from the beginning.”
City Centre also will feature a music venue by local promoter 1% Productions, Kansas’ Mammoth Live and City Ventures. The La Vista City Council recently gave officials the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with Omaha’s RDG Planning & Design to start designs for the infrastructure and public areas that will wrap around the venue and interface between Civic Center Park and the commercial area of City Centre. Public spaces, sidewalks, a plaza and green spaces will be the responsibility of the city to maintain.
Erickson said crews are slated to break ground this spring on the venue, as well as additional retail.
The first phase of Civic Center Park involved expanding a pond and a small lake into two larger lakes. A lake trail and fountain and fire access road are part of phase two.
Ramirez said early winter weather interrupted the construction timeline. “If we have a good spring, it won’t take them more than a couple of months to finish up,” she said.
The Corridor 84 Streetscape Project will beautify 84th Street itself. The final design calls for 10-foot-wide sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists; an arched bridge over Thompson Creek; an underpass linking trails on either side of 84th Street; and lighting, benches, trees and shrubs.
In December, the city signed a contract with Colorado firm Design Workshop (which created initial designs for the Streetscape Project), to move into the design phase, which will happen through summer and into the fall, Ramirez said. Once that is complete, the city can move forward with bids.
City Administrator Brenda Gunn cautioned residents to be patient; the park may not be finalized for two to three years.
Kindig said the entirety of the redevelopment could stretch seven or more years.
La Vista is waiting to hear if the State Department of Transportation will relinquish control of 84th Street, also known as Highway 85, to the city.
Gunn and Ramirez said local control would allow the city to be more creative with the project, adding plants and trees to medians, installing irrigation in the medians and altering speed limits as necessary.
Tim Weander, District 2 engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, told The World-Herald in mid-January that the state was finalizing details of an agreement to relinquish the highway. Asked if he thought the relinquishment would move forward, Weander said: “We’re going that route, yes.”
A closer look at our Transformers
Hasbro's Transformers toyline and spinoff comics and cartoons provide the inspiration for Matt Haney's illustrations for Outlook 2019. Haney, a World-Herald graphic artist since 2006, admits to being "semi-obsessed" with everything Transformers since receiving his first action figure as a Christmas gift in 1984. He was 8 years old. "They were so popular that mothers were fighting for them on the shelves at Target," Haney says. He started mowing lawns for money to buy the latest figures and comic books. "Not much has changed," he quips about his ever-growing collection. In Matt's renderings, as in the series, the Autobots are the heroes, and the quotes are famous lines from Optimus Prime, their main leader. Together, they tell the story of "Omaha: Transformed."
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