It has new asphalt and freshly painted stripes, but a new downtown Omaha parking lot sits empty because the city blocked off the entrance.
Baseball fans pay $5 to park, so parking lot developer Jim Monahan thought build another and they will come. “There's 50 spaces." Monahan's new $50,000 lot sits at 15th and Cass under I-480 on land he leases from the state a few blocks from TD Ameritrade Park. “This lot would have been full of cars by 7 o'clock."
But before one vehicle could pull in, the city blocked the entrance with concrete barriers. “We had to block it because the access as constructed is not safe,” said Omaha City Engineer Todd Pfitzer. “There's no adequate site distance for cars to get in and out.”
Permits for the lot have been denied, though Monahan believes his state lease trumps city code, so he built the lot anyway. “They could have said close it off until we can reach an agreement and sit down with our attorney, but no, they just blocked it off.”
Pfitzer says the state approved the barricades, which block off game day income of $250 and parking fees other times. Monahan says his lot across the street is always in demand for workday parking, so the city closing the other lot costs him $100 a day.
Monahan contends the city is unfairly blocking a downtown investment. “I don't understand where you just come in and take my property away from me summarily.”
“I am a bit shocked that someone would go build something like that with no permits,” said Pfitzer.
Monahan and his parking lot workers expected to have their hands full with a new lot open for the College World Series, but the city is blocking the plate. He hopes to resolve the dispute without going to court and open it before the CWS in mid-June, but Pfitzer says the lot violates several codes so the concrete barriers will stay.