Tag Archives: parking

Creating a true renaissance in downtown Omaha

15 Apr

By Angie Eikenberry and Dale Rabideau

The Apr 11 Omaha World Herald editorial, Downtown jobs critical for momentum, raises some good questions. Citing a 2013 Brookings Institution report, the editorial notes that “Of 58 midsize metros, we ranked 46th in percentage of jobs in the inner core,” which is near our ranking of 41st largest city in the nation and better than our ranking as 59th largest metropolitan statistical area. Definitely room for improvement but no need to ring the alarm bells.

OWH mentions continued momentum as a primary goal to continue the renaissance downtown. The original Renaissance came about by new thinking, new attitudes, and new directions of investments. If Omaha really wants a renaissance, it will require continuing to question old ways and to seek new ideas and best practices for a better tomorrow.

We can start by questioning the out-dated and mistaken assumption that more parking means more jobs. A recent University of Connecticut study found that as cities increase parking availability, the number of jobs and people actually decrease in the downtown area. More parking does not equal more jobs. Continue reading

Tidbits from the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ Request

5 Feb

Restoration Exchange Omaha and the Omaha World-Herald submitted nearly identical FOIA requests to the City asking for communications related to the HDR/Omaha Performing Arts/Specht issue. They requested information dating back to January 1, 2015.

It’s our understanding that they’ve since received all of the documents, although there are several communications and documents the City did not share for two reasons: 1) they are protected by attorney/client privilege (40 emails) and/or 2) they relate to real estate negotiations and state law allows them to NOT be shared until after the sale is final (115 emails).

We’ve seen a few but not all of the documents, and we wanted to share a few here and there so as to make all of these discussions more transparent given that the City plans to spend nearly $11 million to move everything forward.

Continue reading

Take Action to Prevent Our City’s History from being Overrun by Parking

8 Nov

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 info@modeshiftomaha.org.