Redevelopment Drives Change for Farnam Traffic

Midtown drivers might need to tweak the navigation maps. The city is considering more changes to the traffic flow on Farnam Street.

The idea is to change another stretch of the street from one-way to two-way traffic – specifically, the stretch from 36th Street to 42nd. The stretch just east of there was converted to two-way traffic a few years ago.

For more than a decade, Dan Houlihan watched traffic move from left to right past his Farnam Street bar. He says one-way traffic hurt his business and others around it as well.

“The neighborhood died,” he said. “Became nothing more than an artery for people to make it out of downtown as quickly as possible and move traffic out to the west suburbs.”

Business owners in the area have formed the Blackstone Business Improvement District Board and they would like to see traffic moving in both directions on Farnam from 36th to 42nd. That, they hope, will slow down traffic and attract people to the area that is being redeveloped.

Houlihan said, “You've got restaurants, breweries, another eatery, obviously myself, I'm staying.” But he does plan to move (Sullivan’s Bar) across the street. He wants to put it into a larger space.

Some of the changes could come quickly. Some business owners plan to be open as early as this spring.

Micheal Sanchez is planning to open a Mexican restaurant with a tequila bar on the corner of 40th and Farnam. He says the two-way street is critical to the area’s success.

“Slowing that traffic down and getting them to look and see what we have and want to park and participate is going to be the difference-maker,” he said. “And honestly it’s one of the major reasons I decided to do the project.”

A public hearing on the new look for Farnam Street was scheduled for Tuesday’s city council meeting. The council can approve the change after the discussion.

The Farnam Street project also includes Blackstone corner - a historic storefront with retail space. Work could begin on that project in late spring or early summer. And there are also plans for the former Katelman Antique Store. That will be converted into small offices. There will be some parking added to the project but Houlihan says he hopes people are willing to walk a bit to get to this exciting new area.

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