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Omaha residents will soon receive yet another affordable housing area, part of broader development project

OMAHA, Nebraska – The northern part of downtown Omaha is slated to have affordable housing and jobs.

Just north of the ballpark, a $34 million mixed-use development is planned for the Millworks Commons District. Officials hope that this important construction will contribute to the region’s continued growth.

These historic buildings near the intersection of 12th and Izard have seen better days.

However, there are plans to construct a five-story L-shaped mixed-use structure here, with 18,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 172 market-rate apartments on the higher floors.

According to the developers, this project will also offer some affordable housing units. This is fantastic news for Councilmember Juanita Johnson of District 2. Her citizens require cheap houses immediately.

Johnson stated, “I have seen their vision reflecting the inclusion of this particular location, so I fully endorse this.”

The apartments will range in price from $825 per month for a studio to $1,700 per month for a three-bedroom. However, developers claim they will receive assistance to ensure the availability of affordable housing.

Debra Christensen stated, “Where maybe they wouldn’t typically be able to afford our flats, we cap them at a particular price based on their income, and philanthropy covers the remainder to get a more diverse collection of people living in our buildings.”

Debra Christensen, the developer, told the city council that approximately 5% of the apartments will be affordable housing. David Fanslau, director of planning for the city of Omaha, believes that increasing the population in the north downtown region will attract additional businesses and services.

This new construction will also preserve a historic structure.

Developers consider it to be more than an old brick heap. More than a century ago, the historic building housed a millwork industry and mule stable.

Tim Barry is a potter and co-founder of the Hot Shops Art Center, which is located directly across the street. He has had to gaze at the old structure for almost twenty years, therefore he is delighted about the plans to redevelop the block.

Just north of the downtown ballpark, the Millworks Commons District is undergoing a massive renovation.

Barry stated, “It’s about time, we’ve been waiting a long time, we’ve been here for 22 years, and the project that’s going to happen over there is simply wonderful; it will be a good mixed use of things, and it will bring people to this side of Cuming Street.”

David Fanslau is pleased to see the old and the new coexisting.

“Anytime you have good assets in the city that can be incorporated into new projects, I think it’s a plus,” said Fanslau. “Obviously, we’d like to see redevelopment there, as there are some vacant lots, so the fact that the developer is incorporating an older historic structure into the project is a plus.”

Tim states that it would have been simpler for developers to demolish the ancient structure, but local developers realize the significance of preserving the neighborhood’s heritage.

“We’re also very pleased that this project is being undertaken by local developers; our greatest fear was that it would be undertaken by a developer from Chicago or Kansas City who didn’t care about the area and was only interested in flipping a property. “These are Omaha natives who are committed to making the city a better place,” added Barry.

“We view it as an extension of the downtown to the north, thus we would want to see additional housing developments like this.” The more people we can attract to the region, the more active it will become, therefore we believe that if we can attract more residents, more businesses, more office users, and more commercial users such as coffee shops, bars, and restaurants will be drawn to the area, as stated by Fanslau.

The Omaha city council authorized more than $5 million in TIF financing for the project by a vote of 6-0.

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