WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER wrote:The best hopes for what 16th Street can become to the heart of downtown Omaha have been running into a cloud of exhaust in recent years.
But a new cooperative effort sparked by Omaha's new downtown master plan might change things.
At one time, 16th Street around Farnam and Harney Streets was a bustling shopping area. In the 1980s, the city tried to revitalize the strip, but the effort became a model for how not to remake downtown.
Now the corridor — home to some employers and institutions key to the metropolitan area — is pocked with empty storefronts and clogged with buses.
The new 16th Street visionaries believe that they can make the stretch another downtown arts, shopping and restaurant center, in part by moving a transit stop.
“The potential is there,” said Joe Gudenrath, executive director of the Downtown Improvement District.
The future of 16th Street between Dodge and Jackson Streets is the subject of a study funded by an anonymous donor. The Downtown Improvement District and consulting firm HDR are leading the effort.
A concept is being floated to move Metro Area Transit's transfer station to 16th and Cass Streets, return parking to 16th Street, build new storefronts and refresh the area's look. In the short term, artists would be invited to open galleries along the street, giving way to new shops over time.
The City Planning Department considers the 16th Street project one of the first tangible outgrowths of Omaha's proposed 20-year downtown master plan, which has the support of the Omaha Planning Board and will go before the City Council in coming weeks.