Omaha By Design

Discussion of current events, news, the latest happenings in Omaha

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edsas
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Omaha By Design

Postby edsas » Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:43 am

Designers dream big for Dodge Street of the future

BY JEFFREY ROBB
   


WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER  
 
 
How's this for a makeover of Omaha?

Buy out a swath of strip malls and stores in the 72nd and Dodge Street area. Dress up the Little Papillion Creek into a full park and stream.

 
One idea would rework Turner Park east of Mutual of Omaha to make more of a postcard view of Mutual's hilltop site.

Landscape Dodge Street and make room for a new boulevard nearby. Then build up a kind of downtown in midtown, an urban neighborhood with apartments, offices and a slice of the retail there now.

This is how grand Omaha By Design is thinking.

The urban design initiative has included talk about relatively simple ideas of planting more trees and forcing nicer facades on large retail stores. But the Dodge Street concept, aired for the first time Wednesday, goes way beyond those.

At a community meeting, organizers highlighted the extent of their vision and asked participants to dream just as big as they sought ways to make Omaha more distinctive.

"Dream no small dreams about what we can be in this community," said Del Weber, co-chairman of the design initiative.

"For tonight, I urge you to just forget about dollars."

Ah, dollars.

Money would surely be a sizable hurdle if the Dodge Street idea were to move toward reality. The 72nd and Dodge area is considered one of Omaha's prime pieces of real estate.

But for all its value, the intersection is a "wasted real estate opportunity," said Jonathan Barnett of Philadelphia, the lead urban planner for the design initiative.

With its central location, he said, the 72nd and Dodge area carries a lot of potential to be remade.

"This could be much more of an urban downtown," he said.

Barnett suggested a way to redraw the area between Dodge and Cass Streets from about 70th Street to 84th Street. Many parking lots could become new buildings. A lot of retail buildings could become apartments, parkland or offices.

In a sketch of the concept, Crossroads Mall would seem to have a place in the Dodge of tomorrow. Among other properties, a strip mall just west of the Little Papio would not.

Barnett and Marty Shukert, one of the leading urban planners in Omaha, disagreed on how long it might take to carry out such a plan.

Shukert, who sits on the review committee, said it could take decades, maybe 60 years. He said the idea is totally inconsistent with the area's development pattern.

"It doesn't mean it's going to happen overnight," he said. "It absolutely isn't."

Barnett said that if redevelopment couldn't happen sooner - maybe over a generation - it might not be worth discussing. He said he hoped to convince Shukert it could be done quicker.

"That would be nice," Shukert said. "I'd love to see it accelerated."

Omaha By Design planners also dialed down the dreaminess in their meeting on civic spaces in Omaha. Among other ideas:

• Adding a restaurant to the Gene Leahy Mall to draw foot traffic to the park.

• Reworking Turner Park east of the Mutual of Omaha campus to make more of a postcard view of Mutual's hilltop site.

• Creating a park east of Central High School, and a livelier connection to downtown, by relocating offramps for Interstate 480.

The planners weren't ashamed to think big. But they conceded that buying out businesses to carry out plans would require a public cost.

Bob Peters, Omaha's planning director, said parts of the plan would have to be driven by market forces.

One way to enliven areas involves drawing people to live in nearby apartments with attractive addresses.

While he urged people to set aside financial concerns, Weber also said Omaha has a history of finding the dollars if an idea catches on.

"It is so easy to say, 'We can't do that,'" he said, adding, "That's not the way to release creative energy."

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Postby eomaha » Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:42 pm

The accompanying rendering

Image

Am I seeing some new architectural element there? While I haven't spent alot of time looking from this vantage point... I don't remember all of this (is the tall/slender building on the right... the residence building which Mutual recently moth balled? or is this something else?)

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Postby edsas » Thu Apr 01, 2004 5:12 pm

Good question, Jeff. And I might be the least qualifed here to answer it . ;)

What I'd like to see is a redoing of the Mutual Building itself. Nothing overly ambitious, but something that brings the building a little more up-to-date. Is the Indian Head sign lit up at night? I always thought it'd be nice to see a modern, more abstract version of the Indian Head that would be lit up.

Well, who knows. If Omaha-by-Design's suggestions take shape, perhaps Mutual of Omaha will reconsider how much they want there building to match the changes. We'll see. :)

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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Thu Apr 01, 2004 11:30 pm

Actually, that view shows the new "framed vista" of Mutual of Omaha. What your seeing directly in the foreground of Mutual, ar 4 new highrise residential towers and a redesigned Turner Park, all of which orients the view towards Mutual. I think it's beautiful. They had a similar rendering of the concept applied to the view of Central High School looking up Capitol Ave.

I attended the meeting last night and it was great. Jonathan Barnett is wonderful!

Funny story...

So I introduced myself to Jonathan Barnett after the meeting last night, telling him that I am a great admirer, and that I'm working as an intern at HDR with Doug Bisson, etc. because he also was a major consultant for Destination Midtown.

So anyway, today I was at the new Hilton Omaha taking pictures (look for a the photo thread), and who do I run into? Jonathan Barnett and Bob Peters and the rest of their crew. I was looking around on the executive level at the meeting rooms, and they walked by. I acted casual, and if Jonathan recognized me, I bet he tought I was stocking him, because then a little bit later, I was sitting in the lobby, tucked away behind the stair case, and he came over right next to me and started arranging chairs for their meeting. I wanted to go up to him and say something....but then I definitely would have looked like a stocker, and that's awkward :) .
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Fri Apr 02, 2004 12:33 pm

Yeah, I've always thought about how I'd like to see the Twin Towers remodeled. I'm sure they will be at some time in the future.
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Omaha by Design recommendations

Postby Coyote » Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:43 am

Urban planners say change can come soon

Omaha can start becoming a more attractive city within about five years, leaders of a community-wide urban design initiative say.

Urban planners for Omaha By Design presented a list of recommendations for transforming Omaha to their steering committee Wednesday.

Included are ideas to dress up certain areas of Omaha, encourage a new look in neighborhoods and build shopping centers with a main-street feel.

Jonathan Barnett, the initiative's lead consultant, said Omaha transformed its downtown and riverfront within about six years. Other parts of the community, he said, can have their appearance transformed within five to seven years.

"This community has done it before," Barnett said.

The planners presented their suggestions privately, and committee members debated and refined the goals. After the meeting, leaders publicly discussed a few of the concepts.

One idea involves a higher design standard for important sections of Omaha, such as downtown, 72nd and Dodge or the city's western gateway off West Dodge Road.

In the suburban fringe, planners also hope to encourage a new style of neighborhood design. Homes, for instance, might be built in a more traditional style, with a garage to the side of the house, not out front.

If that idea takes hold, suburban Omaha could see changes within three to five years, said Omaha Planning Director Bob Peters.

Retail centers, planners said, already are changing, with the new Village Pointe and smaller shopping centers that incorporate more plazas. The Omaha By Design proposals will move shopping centers more strongly in that direction, Peters said.

The full proposal will be unveiled Oct. 14, followed by a community meeting Oct. 20. The Planning Board will take up the recommendations Nov. 3.

A City Council vote is scheduled for Dec. 7.
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Postby DTO Luv » Thu Sep 16, 2004 7:47 pm

Let's hope by then people will still be thinking progressivly enough to see this happen.
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Changes coming to Omaha

Postby greenbuilder » Fri Sep 17, 2004 3:18 pm

Please make it happen
Urban planners say change can come soon

Omaha can start becoming a more attractive city within about five years, leaders of a community-wide urban design initiative say.

Urban planners for Omaha By Design presented a list of recommendations for transforming Omaha to their steering committee Wednesday.

Included are ideas to dress up certain areas of Omaha, encourage a new look in neighborhoods and build shopping centers with a main-street feel.

Jonathan Barnett, the initiative's lead consultant, said Omaha transformed its downtown and riverfront within about six years. Other parts of the community, he said, can have their appearance transformed within five to seven years.

"This community has done it before," Barnett said.

The planners presented their suggestions privately, and committee members debated and refined the goals. After the meeting, leaders publicly discussed a few of the concepts.

One idea involves a higher design standard for important sections of Omaha, such as downtown, 72nd and Dodge or the city's western gateway off West Dodge Road.

In the suburban fringe, planners also hope to encourage a new style of neighborhood design. Homes, for instance, might be built in a more traditional style, with a garage to the side of the house, not out front.

If that idea takes hold, suburban Omaha could see changes within three to five years, said Omaha Planning Director Bob Peters.

Retail centers, planners said, already are changing, with the new Village Pointe and smaller shopping centers that incorporate more plazas. The Omaha By Design proposals will move shopping centers more strongly in that direction, Peters said.

The full proposal will be unveiled Oct. 14, followed by a community meeting Oct. 20. The Planning Board will take up the recommendations Nov. 3.

A City Council vote is scheduled for Dec. 7.

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Postby Brad » Tue Sep 21, 2004 11:28 am

Why don't they tear down all of the horiable looking, run down buildings east of dundee all the way to downtown??? Some of these buildings as you head west up the hill from Saddle Creek road are awful!

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Postby Brad » Tue Sep 21, 2004 11:33 am

Also, don't replace these old buildings with a strip mall like that new strip mall the EZ money check cashing is in. Make some architectual beautiful buildings, not a stupid strip mall.

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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Tue Sep 21, 2004 12:48 pm

I agree that many of the buildings beween about Saddle Creek and 49th are very ugly....but most of that is simply due to the fact that they are run down and not taken care of.

I don't think "tearing them all down" is necessarily the answer, because some of them do actually posses architectural integrity and would be very nice if they were just fixed up. However, something desperately needs to be done there, especially if Dodge Street is going to be widened into an urban boulevard. Those buildings are already dangerously close to Dodge street as it is. There should be no "off street" parking on Dodge, where you just pull right off of Dodge and into the parking stall. And when you back out of the stall, you're right on Dodge Street! And in addition to being unsightly, it's very dangerous for pedestrians.
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Tue Sep 21, 2004 12:49 pm

And I also HATE that EZ Money strip mall. What poor planning and what a waste of space.

This shows the need there is for design standards.
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Omaha by Design

Postby eomaha » Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:04 am

This is what we've been waiting for.  All the studies in the world don't do anything if they're not incorporated into the rules by which developers are constrained.

New zoning rules and guidelines will focus on major commecial corridors.

Examples:

Imposing new design standards requiring greater use of brick and stone as opposed to concrete and stucco.

My personal favorite... the requirement that buildings would need to be closer to the street, with tree-lined parking lots in the rear.

Store facades would be near the sidewalks instead of set back from the intersection. "We want our streets to be more interesting," (city planning director) Jensen said, "and not just a way to move cars."


Another proposal calls for no longer allowing tall signs on poles (amen).  Trees, shrubs, and islands of green would be mandatory.

Even more rigid requirements are to be established for areas considered 'special civic places'.  

Village Pointe was cited for it's pleasant pedestrian oriented attributes.  But Jenson added... Village Pointe, however, is cut off from surrounding residential areas by a fence and access road.. The proposed regulations would require a way to walk from a neighborhood to adjoining commercial centers

Traditional suburban developments wouldn't be abolished under the new zoning code. A new "walkable neighborhood" would be added to the possible types of subdivisions built in Omaha.

Nothing prohibits developers from building public and commercial structures in subdivisions with a variety of housing styles. But Omaha has nothing in the city code to encourage developers, for example, to re-create a Dundee-style neighborhood in the western suburbs. There would be in the proposed code, Jensen said


World Herald story: http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=163 ... nd=1163554

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Postby MTO » Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:20 am

This couldn’t have come fast enough.
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Postby eomaha » Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:27 am

Well it hasn't come YET. Details are still being worked out... this is the time when developers will do their arguing as to whether they can 'live with' the new proposed zoning rules.

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Postby eomaha » Sun Mar 26, 2006 12:32 pm

Oh come on... since when does anything move quickly around here?

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Postby adam186 » Sun Mar 26, 2006 12:49 pm

This is fantastic news. I can't wait "until" this is enforced.

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Postby DTO Luv » Sun Mar 26, 2006 3:59 pm

jhuston wrote:Oh come on... since when does anything move quickly around here?


When I'm late for work.
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:44 am

I just wonder how this is going to relate to existing bad development. I understand that it would be impossible, because of time and resourses, to go and make every violator of the new code make necessary corrections and updates to their property. But I do wonder how much "enforcement" will be done on existing properties that are outrageously not to code.

Anyway, excellent news. Can't wait for it to pass and to start seeing results.
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Postby MTO » Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:46 am

I doubt it will be retroactive that would be almost impossible.
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:47 am

Almost....
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Postby adam186 » Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:05 am

My guess is that they would treat this like they treated the signage codes some 20+ years ago(?). They didn't enforce it on the existing signs, but only the new ones would be of code. I'm assuming the same thing will occur in this situation and over time it will all be corrected. Go Omaha! O! how progressive! :lol: 8)

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Postby adam186 » Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:39 am

^Stop posting stupid |expletive| to boost your post count. Ooops, I guess I'm occasionaly guilty of that though...so nevermind. :lol:

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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:22 am

I've posted over 2100 times, and none of it is EVER stupid |expletive| :) .
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Postby Finn » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:35 am

Older, non-conforming development will be "grandfathered" and allowed to remain but if an older property is being redeveloped, it would have to come into compliance with the new regulations. Let's just hope this thing has some "teeth" to it and they don't cave to many developer concerns.

Actually, this has moved very quickly! Considering Omaha was severely lacking on design-related ordinances/regulations, we are now close to impressive standards in a mere couple of years. It often takes cities several years just to update sections of the zoning code without such radical rewriting! I do hope they move quickly on this last step, this is often the point at which developers rush things in to start the approval process before the rigid standards are in place. They did that in the mid-90's in Bellevue when the city was rewriting the signage ordinance and they were able to quickly place a bunch of billboards along the new Kennedy Expressway!

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Postby midtown charlie » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:43 am

I had some concerns when I read the article. Unless I read it wrong the article made it sound like some of the mutually agreed upon items could still be changed/deleted/toyed with if developers don't like them. Why would they bother getting a broad range committee together if they were just going to let one group change them later. This is such a great project so i hope it doesn't get dumbed down for the sake of some vocal developers.

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Neighborhood plan favors mixed uses, walkers, cyclists

Postby Brad » Fri Sep 15, 2006 9:07 am

Neighborhood plan favors mixed uses, walkers, cyclists

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=1636&u_sid=2242463

New landscaping, "gateways" at major intersections and a mix of commercial and residential development are part of the revitalization plan for the Benson and Ames neighborhoods.

Representatives for the city and Omaha By Design unveiled their redevelopment blueprint Thursday. A public hearing on the plan, which was nine months in the making, was held Thursday night at Omaha Benson High School.

The plan underscores what its creators have long said: The future of the adjoining neighborhoods lies in downtown Benson, the Ames Avenue corridor, Saddle Creek Road and the intersection of 72nd Street and Military Avenue.

Among the proposed changes is a "parkway feel" leading into downtown Benson, with new landscaping along the Northwest Radial.

The plan also emphasizes the need for mixed-use developments and pedestrian-friendly amenities along Maple Street and north of Maple. Officials envision multistory buildings with office space and entertainment venues on the first floor and residential and more office spaces on the second and third floors.
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Fri Sep 15, 2006 11:30 am

This is fantastic. Benson is going to be such an amazing, urban hood. It really will be a model for future urban renewal and infill.

I love the talk of pedestrians, cyclists, and new construction of mixed-use-multi-story structures.
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Omaha by Design meeting

Postby the1wags » Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:00 pm

"Month after month, Omaha developers and city planners have gone nose-to-nose on the width of sidewalks, the height of signs and percentage of masonry."


"The public will receive a preview of their progress at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Scott Conference Center at 6450 Pine St."


Link to the full World Herald article.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=163 ... rnd=757037


CONTINUE DISCUSSION BELOW.

phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4126

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Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:01 pm

[font=Georgia]Planners prepare to unveil Omaha By Design results[/font]

Omaha World Herald wrote:Month after month, Omaha developers and city planners have gone nose-to-nose on the width of sidewalks, the height of signs and percentage of masonry. This is the type of minutiae that ultimately will determine whether Omaha By Design truly transforms Omaha into a more attractive and desirable city.  Working out the rules, code changes and zoning regulations has turned out to be more difficult than expected.

Many grand urban design plans sit on the shelves of city halls across the country, Jensen and Spellman said. Omaha is the first metropolitan city in the nation to try to adopt a comprehensive plan to raise citywide design standards, according to Jonathan Barnett, a noted urban design consultant who worked with Omaha By Design. In December 2004, the Omaha By Design proposal was added to the city's master plan.


Green parking lots: The original plan called for a landscaped strip dividing every set of rows. Landscapers said the grass, trees and shrubs could not survive Nebraska weather on such narrow strips. Wider strips for every other row became the standard.

Areas of civic importance: One of the guiding principles is that key areas of the city - the Dodge Street Corridor, 24th Street, Abbott Drive, 72nd Street, 144th Street and 180th Street - deserve special treatment to make the city more attractive. But no single set of standards for those areas emerged. The proposals for downtown are now different from those for 180th Street.

Signs: The city wanted monument-style signs for individual businesses that were no taller than 10 feet. After considerable wrangling, the restriction was raised to 12 feet.
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Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:35 pm

What part of 180th street is key to the city? I mean is it that the street currently represents the first main thoroughfare in Omaha pre-Elkhorn annexation? Because that will soon change Elkhorn annexation or not. Not that I'm against giving it special treatment, I just fail to see the logic.

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Postby Brad » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:29 pm

180th Does NOT connect from Blondo to Dodge???

But there is BIG development going on there right now.
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Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:42 pm

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Postby Brad » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:44 pm

Coyote wrote:Image


Exactly Coyote.  I wish they would just build a bridge over the Union Pacific Tracks and get it Connected.
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Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:50 pm

The overpass would have to be not only the train tracks and the creek but probably also the old Lincoln Hwy. The memorial marker is right there on the SE corner of 180th and Old Lincoln.
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Postby Brad » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:52 pm

Coyote wrote:The overpass would have to be not only the train tracks and the creek but probably also the old Lincoln Hwy. The memorial marker is right there on the SE corner of 180th and Old Lincoln.


I am guessing it would look like the one at 168th That crosses all different things in the same bridge.  You also might have to channelize and straighten part of that creek that looks to be running perpendicular to the intersection of 180th and Blondo
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:46 pm

I'd say that, by including 180th St NOW, they're planning ahead, so that it would be possible to have an actual PLAN, and a MONUMENTAL plan at that, as the area starts to be developed more heavily.
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Postby RyaninOrangeCounty » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:20 am

I'll be there.  Does anyone else plan on attending the meeting this evening?  This would be my first opportunity to meet some forumers (just moved from California), so I hope to see some of you there.  There should be a lot to talk about tonight.

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Postby Omaha Cowboy » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:03 am

Unfortunately I wont be able to make it..But I'm sure several will..

Welcome to Omaha Ryan!..Glad to hear you've made the move to the Big O..

:)  ..

..Ciao..LiO....Peace
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Tue Jan 16, 2007 1:09 pm

I'll be in horticulture class for five hours tonight.... :x  

So I won't be able to come.  Whoever goes, please give us the details!!

I'm going to try to go to the State of the City address tomorrow, though.
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