New development including affordable housing in downtown Omaha area
A $34 million mixed-use development is in the works for the Millworks Commons District, located just north of the ballpark.
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Affordable housing and jobs are in the works for the northern section of downtown Omaha.
A $34 million mixed-use development is in the works for the Millworks Commons District, located just north of the ballpark. Officials are hoping this major development helps that area to continue to grow.
It doesn’t look like much now, these old buildings near 12th and Izard have seen better days.
But there are plans to turn this into a five-story L-shaped mixed-use building‚ the first floor will feature 18,000 square feet of commercial space, and 172 market-rate apartment units on the upper floors.
Developers also say this project will include some affordable housing units. That is good news for District 2 Councilmember Juanita Johnson. Her constituents are in desperate need of affordable housing.
“I have seen their vision to reflect the inclusion of that particular area so I would be in total support of this,” said Johnson.
City council documents show the units will run from $825 a month for a studio unit up to $1,700 a month for three bedrooms. But developers say they will get help to make sure there are some affordable units available.
“Where maybe they wouldn’t normally be able to afford our apartments get them maxed at a certain amount based on their income we’ve got philanthropy coming in to cover the rest of it to get a more diverse group of people living in our buildings,” said Debra Christensen.
Developer Debra Christensen told the city council that about 5% of the units will help fill the affordable housing gap. City of Omaha Planning Director David Fanslau says getting more people to move into the north downtown area will draw more business and services to the area.
This new development will also save a historic building.
Developers believe it’s more than an old pile of bricks. The old building housed a millwork operation and mule barn more than 100 years ago.
Tim Barry is one of the potters and co-founders of the Hot Shops Art Center right across the street. He’s had to look at the old building for more than 20 years and he’s excited about plans to develop the block.
“It’s about time it really is, we’ve been waiting a long time we’ve been here 22 years the project that’s going to happen over there is just incredible, it’s going to be a good mixed use of things, it’s going to bring people to this side of Cuming Street,” said Barry.
David Fanslau is happy to see the old mixed in with the new.
“Anytime you have those good assets in the city that can be incorporated in those new projects I think it’s a plus, obviously, we’d like to see redevelopment there, there’s some vacant lots there so the fact that the developer is incorporating that older historic in the project we think it’s a plus,” said Fanslau.
Tim says it might have been easier for developers to tear down the old building, but he says local developers understand the importance of preserving the history of the neighborhood.
“We’re also very happy that it’s local developers that are doing this project, our biggest fear was it was going to be somebody from Chicago or Kansas City that didn’t care about the neighborhood just cared about flipping a building. These are people who grew up in town and have a commitment to make Omaha a better place,” said Barry.
“We consider it an extension of the downtown to the north so more projects like this more housing. The more we can get people to live in the area the more activated it will become so we feel if we get people living down there more businesses, more office users, more commercial users like coffee shops, bars and restaurants stuff like that we think that will attract those types of businesses,” said Fanslau.
On a 6-0 vote, the Omaha city council approved more than $5 million in TIF financing for the project.
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