Bluestone Development is planning its largest new development northwest of 51st & Mayberry. At this site, Bluestone proposes to build three buildings containing 193 market-rate apartments. All but 35 parking spaces will be built inside the enclosed property space. Providing market-rate housing for young professionals in an area that is often difficult to access is the goal for the project.
At the Omaha Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, February 3rd, Mode Shift Omaha’s new Program Coordinator, Michaela Brown, stated our strong support for Bluestone’s plans at 51st and Mayberry. The board voted 7-0 in support of the plans.
Smart Growth Details
An important component of Mode Shift Omaha’s advocacy is promoting land use policies that allow for denser development, which makes active and public transportation a more likely and more enjoyable choice. Mode Shift Omaha views the 51st & Mayberry project as sensitive, appropriate infill development in a neighborhood that is zoned to allow as much.
The waivers Bluestone Development is seeking are driven by minimum parking requirements that are seen by most sophisticated growing cities as hindrances to walkable development. We applaud Bluestone and the City for finding a public/private solution wherein the project is not over-building parking.
Traffic engineers said that although the future level of service at 51st and Leavenworth would sink at peak afternoon travel times, many Omaha intersections are at the same level at peak times.
Other reasons to be excited about these smart growth plans include: the proposed site is adjacent to the 20-mile bike loop and within a block of transit and the property is zoned R8, which allows for an even larger development than they’re planning. Note: It’s adjacent to the 22-story Elmwood Tower.
Finally, this project aligns with several planning documents within the city, such as the Environmental Element (which calls for increased density), the Transportation Master Plan (which calls for improved access to transit), and the city’s newly adopted Infill Guidelines (which pave the way for sensitive, appropriate infill such as this).
Now the issue goes to the City Council.
About 20 neighbors attended the Planning Board meeting to oppose the project. The neighbors asked the Planning Board to delay the vote to allow them more time to share their opinions with Christian Christensen, owner of Bluestone Development.
Larry Jobeun, a Bluestone lawyer, stated at the Planning Board meeting that Christensen has already attended several meetings with the neighbors and made multiple compromises on the project – on the building height, total number of apartments, parking, and design materials.
The neighbors also wanted an extension on the Planning Board’s decision so they could perform an independent traffic study to verify the study done by the traffic engineers hired by Bluestone.
The City Council must approve the project. We need your support to secure the vote for smart infill development in Omaha that would lead toward increased active transportation. We will keep you informed of when the Council will hear the case and advise on purposeful next steps.