Tag Archives: #respecht

Citizens’ Voices Heard: Omaha Performing Arts Ends Bid for Historic Buildings

16 Feb

Specht buildings - OWH

In a surprising turn of events, Omaha Performing Arts announced that they will no longer be pursuing their downtown property acquisition deal. They will leave the three century-old buildings untouched and no unnecessary parking garage will be constructed in their place.

In a press conference yesterday, Joan Squires, president of Omaha Performing Arts, said, “The planning process escalated in an effort to meet deadlines associated with HDR’s relocation and that did not give our organization enough time to meet with the community, arts partners, and others.”

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Summary of 2/9/2016 City Council Meeting

10 Feb

Mode Shift Omaha and Restoration Exchange Omaha spent the day at Omaha’s City Hall yesterday. We met with six City Council Members to discuss the City of Omaha/historic buildings/Omaha Performing Arts (OPA) agreements. Then, at the City Council meeting at 2pm yesterday, we spoke in opposition to the agreements. More than a dozen others spoke in opposition to the plans.

First, we would like to share a summary of our meetings with City Council Members yesterday. Most were sympathetic to our concerns and agreed that the agreements before them were less than ideal. They conceded, however, that they have no alternative for getting HDR’s headquarters office downtown. In other words, if they don’t approve the agreement, they fear that HDR will build in west Omaha or another city.

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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.