The city of Omaha could be sitting on a gold mine, 10 acres of real estate downtown. The only problem is the Civic Auditorium is sitting on the land. Mayor Jim Suttle announced Wednesday afternoon the facility will close in June 2014.
In the meantime, the city is looking for a developer with a plan to re-work the property and re-energize that part of downtown Omaha. Demolishing the building will cost an estimated $5-$7 million, but that could be paid for by the future developer.
"We need to know how to roll that into the package or whether we need to seek other revenue sources to demo it and these are all questions to be answered by the professional," said Mayor Suttle.
Although no plans have been submitted, City Planning Director Rick Cunningham has high hopes for the future of the area around 18th and Capitol and for all of downtown. “Ten acres in an urban core, downtown area, is definitely a sweet deal. It can have a game-changing effect on the surrounding areas around it.”
The city will also have to do an environmental study of the building. The Civic Auditorium was built in 1954.