Omaha city planners present $306 million redevelopment plan

Streetcars are at the center of Urban Core outline
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Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:40 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - At Wednesday’s city planning board meeting, Omaha will get a look at a 30-page document outlining an ambitious plan to make downtown the city center similar to what it was a half-century ago.

We already know of Omaha’s streetcar desire. Construction of 5.5 track miles of a modern route to serve Downtown, Midtown, Blackstone, and UNMC have already been unveiled. But it is just part of a much bigger plan to redevelop about 50 city blocks.

The main goal of the $306 million urban core redevelopment plan is to bring thousands of jobs back to the heart of the city.

Downtown Omaha has lost 21,000 jobs in the last 60 years. Market studies show there is potential to bring that work back, but there isn’t enough room – physically – for the jobs and housing.

And there’s too big of a need for parking; that’s where the streetcar comes in.

The plan claims an upgraded city infrastructure grid, plus better use of more than 17,000 outlying parking spaces in the metro, surrounding an efficient streetcar as the main artery, has the potential to deliver 30,000 jobs and 30,000 residents to Omaha’s core over the next three decades.

Paying for it, according to the 30-page document, requires a group effort, and one that doesn’t include directly raising taxes, leaning heavily on what’s known as tax increment financing, piggybacking existing projects, and enticing private sector support.

The many details that need to be ironed out include changes to streets, traffic flow, and what will happen to renew blighted areas.

The first reading of the development plan will be presented at the city’s planning board meeting tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center.

You can find details including a copy of the plan on the city’s website.

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