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South of Omaha downtown project to turn 25-acre of industrial area into multimillion-dollar wellness and sports complex


OMAHA, Nebraska — The ambitious proposal to transform a predominantly industrial 25-acre parcel south of the city center into a multimillion-dollar wellness and sports complex has been abandoned.

A spokeswoman for Community Health Development Partners told the Nebraska Examiner that the “Intersections” campus could relocate to another location in Omaha, possibly in a smaller form.

“We swung for the fences on this one, but it didn’t work out,” said David Lutz, an attorney and managing partner in Omaha who led the initiative.

The expenses exceeded forecasts.

What was originally anticipated to cost more than $100 million increased by at least triple, he claimed, due to high construction charges and site preparation costs that had more to do with land topography than environmental concerns.

Now, the turnabout leaves in limbo approximately 20 houses and lots that the consortium purchased in the former Sheelytown minority neighborhood, according to the developer. A couple of these homes are still occupied, but the most are vacant and boarded up or locked.

Several are cluttered with debris and have their windows wide open.

This concerns Jenny Synowiecki, a native of the area and the most ardent opponent. When she recently reached out to Habitat for Humanity for assistance, she stated that she had heard whispers, but was unsure if the work had finished.

Synowiecki stated that she and nearby property owners who had not sold to the developer concerned that out-of-state speculators who “don’t genuinely care about the community” would purchase the vacant homes.

Community Health Partners planned to demolish the properties it purchased along 28th Avenue and 27th Street in order to establish a construction site, therefore Lutz stated that departing occupants were permitted to gut the interiors.

According to Lutz, his development company has been conferring with other entities to determine how to rehabilitate the homes and return them to residential usage. He expressed dismay at the widespread disinformation surrounding the initiative.

Sincere intentions

“The area will be left in the same, if not better, condition than when we arrived,” Lutz added. We have always had positive objectives.

Lutz stated that the investors spent “millions” in order to reach this position, including paying above-market rates for the homes. He stated that the group will likely sell the homes at a loss and desires to “soon” return them to their original owners.

The group had begun purchasing buildings and negotiating with the major owner, A&R Salvage & Recycling, by the time it disclosed its idea the previous year.

Five structures, including a competitive video and gaming arena, were to be erected on a campus for health and entertainment near the intersection of 28th Street and Martha Street.

The project site was specifically bounded by Martha, Deer Park Boulevard, Interstate 480, and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Lutz stated at the time that the location gave access to North and South Omaha, while the facilities were anticipated to attract residents from throughout the region.

disadvantaged populations

The idea envisioned charging fees for programs, services, and events, but remaining accessible to marginalized populations by providing charitable organizations with discounted rates to practice or operate within the complex.

The project site comprised an A&R salvage and recycling yard and a concrete-crushing firm, but Lutz’s investment group opted not to finalize the pending purchase agreement after extensive thought and examination.
In November of last year, Community Health, a for-profit organization around two years old, disclosed its strategy. At that point, the organization had already begun purchasing the properties.

Community Health, a “mission-driven” real estate developer with an office in Omaha, was planned to own and manage the property.

Then, Lutz stated that fee-charging components, such as large tournaments or health care services, would assist fund a portion of the program costs for nonprofit sports organizations that serve low-income children.

Before being eligible for a tax-increment financing subsidy, Community Health and a developer of a separate but adjacent housing proposal had to get their project sites designated as blighted by the city.

The neighborhood will likely be left in better condition than when we arrived.

Some, including Synowiecki, feared that inhabitants would be “pushed out” in order to increase the Intersections project’s boundaries.

‘Smaller bites’

Tuesday, Synowiecki stated that she is still concerned about the timing for reselling the houses and hopes that the developer would keep the neighbors informed.
South Omaha City Councilman Vinny Palermo stated that he has been watching the neighborhood and recently walked it with Synowiecki. According to him, the city has the authority to enforce any code violations, and city employees have already removed graffiti from the construction site.

He described the city’s involvement with private development as “textbook.” According to him, the Intersections group pursued its idea responsibly and garnered the approval of numerous city officials for its effort to bring economic development to an elderly neighborhood.

Lutz stated that his development company, which is currently working on projects in other states, is interested in a future Omaha project that would likely be smaller.

He stated, “We’ll take smaller nibbles.”


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