Businesses along proposed Omaha streetcar route welcome attraction, worry about rent

Business owners along Farnam Street tell 6 News their outlook on the city's proposed streetcar. Some worry what that might mean for their rent.
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:33 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Business owners along the route of the city’s proposed streetcar are expecting more people and more money to ride into their shops and restaurants, but some are concerned about what will happen before the streetcars start running.

Streetcars have traveled Omaha streets before. Now that downtown streets will see the return of the streetcar, the route will run right down Farnam Street. City officials and developers say the change will improve the area, and improvement sooner or later will bring higher rents.

“If there’s one thing that the last two years of this crazy world has taught us is small business and big businesses have to adapt,” said Trenton B. Magin, executive vice president of NP Dodge. “And the streetcar system — they’ll be some growing pains because of the construction and there may be some rents that may go up over time.”

Trenton Magid has been in real estate for close to 30 years. He said plans for a streetcar in downtown Omaha is exciting and the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives.

But business owners 6 News talked with along Farnam Street admit that higher rents in the future are a concern.

They welcome the streetcar's draw for customers, but do have some concerns.

John Svatos owns Ground Floor Guitar in the Blackston area. He said when he heard about the streetcar rolling in, the possibility of higher rent was on his mind.

“Very much so — it’s always a concern when new development comes in. You do worry about cost,” he said. “Some of those concerns being running a small business — those are things that have to be on the forefront of your mind. But luckily enough, it’s a really progressive growing neighborhood, and they’ve always taken quite good care of us here.”

Svatos said he is more concerned about parking and how long it will take for construction along Farnam Street, but he said he plans to stay in Blackstone to take advantage of the benefits the streetcar will bring.

“We’ve gotten through COVID and everything else. Hopefully, we can get through a streetcar,” he said.

The city plans to have the streetcar system operational in four years.

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