Mode Shift is Omaha’s transportation equity advocacy group, envisioning a city where anyone can safely and efficiently walk, cycle, take public transit, or utilize other sustainable and less costly modes of transportation. We are excited about the potential of increasing residences along the Dodge corridor with the goal of providing sustained increased ridership on Omaha’s first Rapid Transit line, ORBT. Rapid transit will not succeed without a greater density of homes along this transit corridor. However, we can not fully support this project, as proposed by Skylark, LLC on South 38th Avenue.
Whenever we replace existing affordable housing in our community, it is important that we hold new development to a high standard. The proposed development on 38th and Dodge fails to meet these standards in two ways; the amount of parking is inappropriate for the development, and fails to use TIF funds responsibly to at least replace the existing twenty one affordable housing units.
Parking comes at a tremendous cost to our community – over the course of its life, a single garage parking stall costs between $119 and $224 per month to build and maintain (as per a 2014 Omaha specific study). This unnecessarily increases the cost of each unit on the occupants for the life of the building. When free, ample parking is provided, residents have less incentive to utilize the local rapid transit line. We recommend the number of parking units decreases from 130 to 65. We’d also like to see the units decoupled from parking to allow for affordability.
TIF is designed to provide developers funding to create “market-rate and affordable” housing as well as “replace deteriorated structures.” By only providing 10 affordable units, this development is an inappropriate use of TIF funds, and should at minimum replace and add additional affordable units to our community. Existing units are not deteriorated, and in fact in good shape and fully occupied. Affordability of transit is only productive if residents who rely on transit can access it on a regular basis. We would like to see 30 affordable units in the new development.
While increasing density along the Dodge corridor will require demolition of properties, we question beginning with these three buildings which are all in good condition, fully occupied.