The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connecting Nebraska and Iowa is about to open. Omaha's taken advantage of development opportunities along the riverfront, but so far we haven't seen much on the Council Bluffs side.
Near the Qwest Center and Old Market, high-end condos have been built. The pedestrian bridge provides direct access for walkers and bikers over to the Council Bluffs Playland Park area. The city plans to make it a major destination as well.
Riverfront Place opened last year with condos ranging from $250,000 $1.5 million, a project planned around this bridge. "To see how it's changed, it's really becoming an up and coming city," says Patti Gress.
The lifestyle lured Jerry and Patti Gress from west Omaha. “And we always said if we ever move again, we want some water, we want nice city view lights and sunset, so we have everything right here," says Jerry.
Everything seems to be happening in Omaha. Skeptics have dubbed this the metro's own "bridge to nowhere,” but Iowa's bridge landing, Playland Park, is about to get a facelift of its own with two separate parks and condos to rival Omaha's. It could come within the next year.
"I think there's plenty of housing and plenty of office and retail to be built over time in this area and from our perspective here at Riverfront Place, the more the better," says Riverfront Place’s Ross Robb.
Phase two for Council Bluffs will be a riverfront redo of the land that's too soft to build on. “And what a better opportunity than to build a park with walkway, information centers, what is the river, what it's about, how it's been changed,” says Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan.
He says it's an expensive venture that will require more time and help from the private sector. "Long-term is to develop that riverfront into something that we can all be proud of."
"I'm hoping that between the two cities, we'll really get everything together," says Patti.
Even in the slower real estate market, Riverfront Place's tower one is sold out and tower two is halfway sold, even though ground won't be broken until the spring.
One of the big dedications for the pedestrian bridge is Saturday, in conjunction with the Playing With Fire Concert Series that begins at 4:30 p.m. The lights to the bridge will be turned on at 9 p.m., followed by fireworks.
The bridge won’t be open to the public until the end of the month.