The parking vs. historic buildings issue arrives at a critical milestone at the January 12 City Council meeting. The Council will hear public comment AND vote on this resolution that afternoon. The resolution would approve an amendment to the Downtown Northeast Redevelopment Plan to allow the northwest corner of 11th and Douglas Streets to be incorporated in the Plan, and for a redevelopment project that allows for future expansion of Holland Performing Arts Center to take place.
In February, we are told, the City Council will vote to approve the sale of the buildings to the City and the handing of the buildings to Omaha Performing Arts.
We’re opposed and wrote about why in this recent blog post. We will be at both City Council meetings to voice our concerns and encourage many of you to attend and speak as well.
Above and beyond the issues we articulated in that post, there are other factors that cause us concern. First, Restoration Exchange Omaha submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on November 19 asking for all communications regarding this issue. That request has not been fulfilled. It’s our view that City Council should not vote on Tuesday’s matter until the City shares (and provides ample review time) the requested information. Notably, the Omaha World Herald submitted a similar request and has not received any information either.
Additionally, the planned charrette wherein OPA’s architect (HDR) intends to engage other architects in exploring alternatives for using the three historical buildings as part of OPA’s future developments has not been held or scheduled, as we understand it.
Finally, OPA’s recent press conference made it clear that their intention is to save the historical “features” of the Specht building, which we read to mean they want to retain the facade of that building and nothing more.
So here’s the call to action:
Contact your City Council member and ask that they delay the vote until all information from the FOIA request is made available and reviewed.
Attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 12 at 2pm at 1819 Farnam to voice these same concerns publicly.