Major project in South Omaha neighborhood falls through

Now developers and some members of the neighborhood want to work to save and improve the area.
Some people who live in a historic area of South Omaha are trying to save and improve their neighborhood.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 7:18 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A major project in an underserved South Omaha neighborhood has been put on hold. Now developers and some members of the neighborhood want to work to save and improve the area.

We’re talking about a section of Sheelytown, located between Martha Street, Deer Park Blvd I-480, and the U.P. railroad tracks, finding out what happens now that the redevelopment project is in the pause stage.

It was going to be a big deal, a major development for an underserved community. The intersections would be a $100 million recreation and wellness center located around 28th and Martha.

Developers spent more than $4 million to buy around 20 homes in the neighborhood. The homes were set to be demolished to make way for the intersections project.

But the homes are fenced off, shut down, and still here. Homeowners who sold got to take whatever they wanted from inside the houses that were set for demolition but developers found out after investing around $5 million in the project the cost to continue was just too high.

The Community Health Development partners and Senior Managing Director with the intersections project, David Lutz, says due to this and other current economic challenges including supply chain issues and delays on some of our other projects, we are temporarily pausing the intersections project.

That puts Shirley Duke in the middle. She’s lived in her home for 46 years and did not sell to developers.

“Because I love this area it’s been good to me, everything is close for me, I’m handicapped now. But that fell through for them now what do you do?” said Duke.

John Rapaich knows what to do. John and a couple of others want to save their neighborhood by buying back some of the homes that were set for demolition. Right now they are negotiating with developers.

“Because of the 21 houses that they bought most of those houses were owner-occupied and we just don’t want to see a big company come in here and purchase all the houses and turn it into all rental neighborhood,” said Rapaich.

Developers say they will not leave the neighborhood in this condition.

“Our intention now is the same as it has been at the acquisition of such properties, we want to leave the neighborhood in a better condition than when we began.”

They say their intentions have always been the same, to leave the neighborhood in a better condition than when we began.

That’s good news for Shirley. She wants to see her neighborhood improve because she’s made it clear, she doesn’t plan to leave her home.

“When I die they’re going to carry me down these stairs put me in my hearse take me to the ground where my husband’s at and I’m done,” said Duke.

Developers say they plan to complete a project to meet the needs of the underserved community and carry out their vision in the future. The project could be smaller and completed in phases but officials say they are passionate about doing a project in Omaha.