Lincoln unveils South Haymarket development plan for affordable housing and park

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Lincoln has an aggressive new development plan on the table in the South Haymarket area.

Mayor Chris Beutler and private sector partners have unveiled plans for a 10-acre project, Blocks 4 and 5, south of “O” Street and west of Canopy Street. The Mayor said the new development will build on the economic success of the West Haymarket and extend it south.

“The area has been a tremendous driver of job creation and economic growth, increasing local tourism and serving as an innovation hub to Lincoln’s cutting edge technology businesses,” Mayor Beutler said. “Today’s announcement is another incredible example of how public private partnerships achieve success for Lincoln. The partnership on Blocks 4 and 5 will create economic development, affordable housing and a new downtown neighborhood park. It represents nearly $40 million in investment by the private sector. The project is a win for economic development.”

Speedway and Nelnet propose a new development that includes 194 market rate-apartments and first-floor commercial, retail and restaurant space. The Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation, which has provided affordable housing in the Haymarket for over 30 years, is partnering with Speedway and Nelnet to add over 40 affordable housing units for those earning 60 percent or less of the median income.

“This affordable housing is only made possible by LHDC and the City working together to match low-income housing resources like the arena turnback tax and tax increment financing fees with our private funding,” said Darl Naumann of the LHDC. “That strategic City investment of about $500,000 is then leveraged into a $14 million project that provides housing for a broad range of families. We share the belief of Mayor Beutler and everyone here today that, as Lincoln grows, all people in our community need to share in the opportunities that growth provides”.

The plan also includes a new downtown neighborhood park that will include playground space, a dog park, festival space, play courts and other amenities. A new public plaza on the south end of Canopy Street will provide gathering spaces. The park will include a trail connection between “N” and “J” streets, providing a vital link between downtown and the overall trail system to the south.

The park is included in the vision of the West Haymarket Joint Public Agency and the recently adopted Downtown Master Plan. The park will also serve as a catalyst for another economic development project which could add up to 225,000 square feet of redevelopment and additional future redevelopment opportunities in the South Haymarket.

“The new downtown park is a significant public investment in one of the lowest income census tracts in the community,” said Shawn Ryba of the South of Downtown Community Development Organization. “Providing amenities like this is important because it supports the existing affordable housing and encourages new housing - both affordable and market rate. This kind of investment helps assure that all families in Lincoln continue to achieve economic opportunity and a good quality of life.”

The J.A. Woollam Company has made high-tech scientific instruments in the Haymarket for nearly 30 years, and the J.A. Woollam Foundation is pledging $1 million to the Lincoln Parks Foundation as lead donors in support of the new park. The Mayor thanked John Woollam and the Foundation as well as the Lincoln Community Foundation, which is also stepping forward as a lead donor for the park.

The City will take a redevelopment agreement for Block 4 and related legislation for Blocks 4 and 5 to the City Council on April 22. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the project April 29, with final action scheduled for May 6. The JPA will also consider legislation related to the project on April 25.

The City Parks and Recreation Department will seek community review and comment on the preliminary design for the new park and plaza area this summer.