Park proposed in Old Market could become a green retreat

A new outdoor space may be coming to the Old Market.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A little piece of earth at the corner of 13th and Leavenworth on the southern edge of the Old Market has been home to the Pop-up Oasis for about four years.

“We have really enjoyed this pop-up, we’ve given away over a ton of food,” said one of the garden’s many volunteer caretakers, Nancy Scott. “We have swiss chard, collards, kale, turnip greens, we have tomatoes, we have carrots, radishes.”

But Nancy knows the nature of a pop-up is that it is temporary, and the owners of this property, supporters of the garden and its community programs from the outset want to plant a bigger oasis here.

Early concept plans for an Old Market park were on display at Omaha by Design Friday night, as those behind the idea reach out to the community to learn what they’d like to see in this half of a historic city block.

”Some of the concepts are maybe, movie nights in the summertime in part of the area, and kids education, those kinds of things,” Bob Schlott said. “It’s gonna be more of a retreat space.”

The concept is what sets it aside from the more commercially driven upgrades to the Gene Leahy Mall.

Since moving his company’s headquarters to another Omaha location and tearing down the building that was on the lot in 2017, Schlott and his wife, among the metro’s biggest art patrons, have looked to create a healthy space for the city to breathe.

“My wife and I just value green space so greatly ourselves, and decided to put that concept up in front of others,” he said. “So we asked a number of friends to come together, take a look, tell us if they thought it made any sense to pursue, and they were pretty wholeheartedly behind it.”

Their concept details many possibilities, which is why they wanted to open their doors to the public for input this weekend.

Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. they will have another open house of sorts with the project team, which will be held under a tent on the actual site between Leavenworth and Jones at 12th and 13th Streets.

Schlott said if they can get support for what would be a non-profit venture, the green space, tentatively called the Old Market Gardens, could be a reality sometime next year.

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