A blighted part of town is finally getting the attention many say it badly needs. Millions of dollars are being spent on revitalizing a two-square-block area behind North 24th Street. The Omaha Economic Development Corporation is taking two empty lots and turning them into hope.
City, state and federal leaders working together broke ground Friday on a $12.2 million program. The Fair Deal Urban Project will create a 40-unit village for those 55 and older and five new, affordable homes for single family use.
“What we've done is to create an atmosphere of a viable community where folks will be able to walk over a short distance, even seniors, to get to activities going on in the community,” said the OEDC’s Mike Maroney.
The plan calls for the old Fair Deal Café to be one of those destination sites in the community. The old black city hall will be renovated and turned into an art gallery. Eric Stevens is a business owner in north Omaha and he's excited about the new growth in the area.
“Anything that's going to bring more people to the area and get rid of blighted lots and empty lots and fill them with something that's gonna be used and new, just a tremendous advantage to the area.” Stevens also hopes the senior homes have a calming affect on the neighborhood.
The Fair Deal Urban District is just the first step in revitalizing the entire area. State, city and private funds will be used to finance the project. The 40-unit senior housing complex should be completed by this time next year. The five homes should be ready by early 2013.