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North Omaha building goes under renovation

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 7:42 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There is work going on to save an old building in North Omaha right now. A building that once housed a bakery and a club for veterans, became a part of North 24th Streets’ entertainment and social scene.

The pile of broken bricks are actually pieces of Omaha history. They are part of a building near North 24th and Miami that is currently under renovation.

At one time, this old building played host to some of the hottest and biggest names in show business. Ben Swan now owns the building and he’s working to restore it.

“Once I heard the legends, the historic significance of the building, James Brown, Ray Charles, BB King, the cultural impact that it had on not just North Omaha but Omaha in general. I knew if I could be a part of keeping that building in good condition for the community, that was something that I had to do,” said Swan, Swan Development.

The building was once owned by the founder of the Omaha Star. Mildred Brown offered family-friendly, alcohol-free entertainment in the Carnation Ballroom.

Terri Sanders is the publisher of the star. She’s delighted that the Carnation Ballroom will be saved.

“It is a historic part of the history of this street, the fact that it was the Carnation Ballroom, I heard that name, I knew right away who owned it because that was her signature a three carnation corsage,” said Sanders.

Ben Swan is part of the North 24th Street Business Improvement District, he believes restoring the old Carnation Ballroom will aid in the area’s growth.

“I think it helps with the momentum so I get to be a small part of something big that’s happening on North 24th. Lavonya Goodwin and other directors of the North 24th Street bid. They’re looking at a $40 million project to improve the streetscape,” said Swan.

Right now, the building is in pretty bad shape but Swan has plans to put $2-$3 million into the restoration of this historic building.

“I want to respect its history and provide a bridge to its future,” said Swan.

Swan says he will stabilize the property, get it secure, clean, and beautiful. As the area grows and develops, they will transition the uses towards the public.

He also says the building could house anywhere from one to five tenants.

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