Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

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Athomsfere
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Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby Athomsfere » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:13 pm

Hello everyone, long time lurker. I am newer to the area (Lived here for a few years about a decade ago) and I have followed the Omaha development from Wallstreet Tower, to what's going on now.

One thing has always bothered me though, why is Council Bluffs so passed by? Omaha has a metro feel, it feels bigger than it is really. That said, Omaha has had basically a century of being a "big city" and a short trek across the river is like another part of country. Not that it doesn't have it draws, but how has it been passed by so completely?

Driving around Omaha, you can see patterns of growth north, south, and west. Highway 75, I-80, Dodge, NW Radial etc.
Downtown Omaha attracts commuters from 45 minutes west (or more?) Why not from 5 minutes east in greater numbers? Better yet, why has this not only occurred but for so long?

I am not expect precise reasons, but general thoughts, ideas and discussion.

It seems like CB is primed for an explosion if development would start, but then again anytime over the last century appears to be the same.

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Garrett
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby Garrett » Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:27 am

Athomsfere wrote:Hello everyone, long time lurker. I am newer to the area (Lived here for a few years about a decade ago) and I have followed the Omaha development from Wallstreet Tower, to what's going on now.

One thing has always bothered me though, why is Council Bluffs so passed by? Omaha has a metro feel, it feels bigger than it is really. That said, Omaha has had basically a century of being a "big city" and a short trek across the river is like another part of country. Not that it doesn't have it draws, but how has it been passed by so completely?

Driving around Omaha, you can see patterns of growth north, south, and west. Highway 75, I-80, Dodge, NW Radial etc.
Downtown Omaha attracts commuters from 45 minutes west (or more?) Why not from 5 minutes east in greater numbers? Better yet, why has this not only occurred but for so long?

I am not expect precise reasons, but general thoughts, ideas and discussion.

It seems like CB is primed for an explosion if development would start, but then again anytime over the last century appears to be the same.


It's always this was in cross river metro areas that also cross state lines. Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis follow this pattern as well, but Kansas City doesn't because it is only partially bordered by the river. In the more local area, look at Sioux City or St. Joseph. Omaha might take it to a greater extreme than some of these other examples, but Council Bluffs' suburban development is also hampered by the bluffs themselves.
From Omaha to Chicago
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Athomsfere
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby Athomsfere » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:28 am

Any specific examples on Council Bluffs inhibiting growth?

Especially with the tax difference, I'm surprised CB could do anything to stop at least sprawl.

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TitosBuritoBarn
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:31 pm

I think part of it is the physical/mental boundary of the Missouri River. Another part is likely reputation. Council Bluffs is seen as very blue collar and industrial and that's not sexy. Recent projects, many funded through the Iowa West Foundation, are beginning to change this perception, but shifts in perception are long, drawn out processes unless CB can hit a grand slam or find a way to market itself better. Even though its downtown is by far the nicest of any of Omaha's bedroom communities and the housing developments carved out of the bluffs offer a Hollywood Hills-esque feel (without the funky architecture), until the truck stops and industrial businesses visible along I-80 go away, these will continue to be CB's little secrets and the perception will remain.
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Athomsfere
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby Athomsfere » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:49 pm

It's actually funny you say that.
When I lived here before I wandered into CB 3 times I think, Casino a couple times and the Mid America Conference center for an even. Crossing the river and CB felt run down and nasty.

10 years later, their roads seem better than Omaha's (drastic reversal) and I went through the actual CB area with that awesome bridge for the first time. It really was nice compared to the "Council-tucky" labels I had heard before.

It would be nice to see that area clean up a bit though, and to see Omaha look a little more filled out from the North / South

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iamjacobm
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby iamjacobm » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:55 pm

I would bet the physical limitations play a really big factor. The east end of town is crazy hilly and doesn't allow for the large scale suburban development. When you actually sit down and try and find a site on the other side of the river for a large scale housing development that is on flat enough land, out of a flood plain and close enough to employment centers the potential sites become hard to find.

I am sure some of the perceived stigma keeps people away and I think there is a little bit of Nebraska and Omaha loyalty to consider for locals.

Athomsfere
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby Athomsfere » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:25 pm

Not being a local, but speaking as a transplant:

Omaha has a huge image problem too. When I was first invited to scope a job, I thought "Omaha? Nebraska? Why, what's there?"

Then I lived here, and it blew me away. It feels bigger then some "big cities" and the Omaha pride is immense. The rolling hills remind me a bit of the Austin area, but traffic is great. Events seem to always be happening. A strong economy. If it weren't for the sunbelt migration I would half expect Omaha to boom. Speaking off boom, if Omaha keeps up, it will be bigger than OKC in 2076 by my calculations (MSA to MSA)

edsas
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Re: Council Bluffs, the mysterious step child's growth

Postby edsas » Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:49 am

TitosBuritoBarn wrote:the housing developments carved out of the bluffs offer a Hollywood Hills-esque feel (without the funky architecture)


Totally. I lived in LA for 10 years. Moved back to Omaha 5 years ago. Couple years back I had to drop a kid off at his dorm at Iowa Western at night and, as I was looking for the way back to Omaha (figured it couldn't be that hard, just head west), I got completely lost in the hills (no GPS in my car) and that's the image that immediately came to me -- of driving around the Hollywood hills at night, trying to find parking off of Sunset Blvd.

I agree that Council Bluffs has a lot or wasted potential. I often fantasize about some huge river front project coming through and getting rid of that nasty industrial doorstep to the city. For one thing, it really pokes the ambiance of Lauritzen Gardens in the eye when you're strolling along the hillside and you have to look over at Warren Distribution's industrial wasteland.

The city I'd love to see Council Bluffs take after is Glendale, California. Glendale hugs the foothills of the Verdugo mountains much in the same way that CB hugs the surrounding bluffs and does a great job of blending its urban environment up into the terrain.


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