Omaha's largest public housing complex to be torn down

 Southside Terrace Apartments
Southside Terrace Apartments (WOWT)
Published: Oct. 17, 2019 at 5:21 PM CDT
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It's a massive project set to change the face of a large swath of South Omaha. A 1.3 million dollar federal grant is paving the way to start planning the demolition of the city's largest public housing complex.

The Southside Terrace Apartments span over 5 blocks and house well over a thousand people. And those leading the way on the project are counting on the residents to help them plan the future of the area.

“I hope when it's rebuilt it will be a better home with better neighbors,” said Ali Mohammed. He’s lived in the apartments for about five years.

Its voices like his local leaders want to hear from. Cesar Garcia is heading up the newly formed Southside Redevelopment Corporation. It's similar to 75 North, the non-profit planning the overhaul of North Omaha.

“In these early projects we'll still be involving the community, and looking at what their needs are,” said Garcia.

The plan is to tear down these 350 plus units and rebuild mixed-income housing, but the work doesn't stop there. The entire surrounding Indian Hills neighborhood is getting a makeover, similar to what's going on with the changes to North Omaha.

“We'll be bringing people in from OPS, we'll be bringing people in from the community, and we'll bring people in from the business community because that's another thing, the wealth creation in the area and the job creation is a big, big goal for us,” said Garcia.”

As for what happens to the residents of Southside Terrace Apartments, the Omaha Housing Authority is clear; nobody will get lost in the shuffle.

“I don't want to displace families, I don't want to gentrify a community,” said Joanie Poore, CEO of the housing authority. She noted the apartments will be torn down in stages while new units go up. This will allow them to transition people into their new homes.

“This his really is about creating and revitalizing where you currently live and making it a place of choice and not 'this is what's available to you.' It’s still your neighborhood, you should be able to stay,” said Poore.

Earlier this year the city was also awarded a 25 million dollar federal grant to tear down public housing in North Omaha. Demolition is expected to begin in 2021. As for a start date on demolitions at Southside Terrace, it’s likely still a couple of years away.

The Southside Redevelopment Corporation is kicking off its planning efforts with a family event Sunday, Oct. 20 at Upland Park. There will free food from local food trucks along with music and information booths. It runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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