As you may have read in the news, Omaha Performing Arts (OPA) has indicated it wants to tear down three historic buildings to make room for parking next to the Holland Center. The Mayor announced on Thursday that the City of Omaha plans to spend $10 million to acquire three buildings at 11th and Douglas Streets, clearing the way for HDR Inc. to build a new headquarters on a surface lot that is primarily owned by OPA. The City will then give these properties to OPA, which operates the Holland Center.
It’s extremely disappointing that yet more of our downtown spaces—including beautiful historic-designated buildings and the businesses in them–are being sacrificed for parking that we already have in excess downtown. OPA’s desire for more parking is completely misguided; there is a City-owned parking garage with 1,300 stalls directly across the street from the Holland, and it’s empty most evenings.
It’s also problematic that such back-room deals and $10 million giveaways go on while city plans and policies are seemingly ignored. We aspire to have a city wherein important decisions are not made by a few uber-wealthy and influential people through strong-arm, secretive tactics. This city’s citizens deserve transparency.
While we agree that HDR’s presence downtown is important, OPA’s desire to demolish buildings for more parking is not good. The fight is not over. Approvals still need to occur and there are places in the process in which we can intervene.
Ultimately, our desire is that OPA slow down a bit. This doesn’t seem to be a question of OPA’s future needs or even the retention of historic buildings. It’s a question of providing a compelling vision for the future of our downtown; the Gene Leahy Mall (Central Park Mall), the linkages to the river, North Downtown, and the Old Market and how public transit can shape our city. We implore OPA to help envision this broader future before removing parts of our history that can’t ever be replaced.
Here are some things you can do to help:
Attend Rally: We are partnering with Restoration Exchange Omaha (REO) on a rally aimed at convincing OPA that their misguided desire to raze Omaha’s history in order to build a parking garage is not in our City’s best interest. Please join us on Sunday, 11/22 at 2pm just outside of the Specht Building. (We’ll be welcoming those attending the 3pm show at the Holland Center.). See the Facebook event here.
Write: To OPA directly and/or post on their Facebook page and encourage them to find a better solution than bulldozing buildings to build more parking. REO has sent out some great talking points to consider. There will also be a letter/postcard writing party at the Omaha Bicycle Company and Krug Park from 5-7pm on November 13.
Sign: REO’s Save the Specht petition.
- Volunteer to be part of the MSO response team on this issue. Email email@example.com.