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'54 units of affordable housing': Streetcar project attracts developer to renovate historic building

Posted at 2:12 PM, Jul 10, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Reporter Molly Hudson has been following the streetcar project for nearly two years, a project expected to spark development along the route. An estimated $1.3 billion dollars worth by the end of this year. Now Hudson is checking in with one of the new developers along the route.

Sitting at 19th and Farnam is the historic Service Life Building and just outside its door will be a streetcar stop. For months we wondered what was going into this building we've learned it will soon be affordable housing.

"It'll be 54 units of affordable housing all studios and one bedroom, on floors 2 through 7,” said Neeraj Agarwal with Clarity Development Company.

Plus, an office and restaurant space on the first floor. Agarwal says they look at employment is the area but also public transportation he says the streetcar was a big reason his company felt confident taking on this $25 million project.

"With developers, anything on the Farnam Street kind of route is just going to be a long-term benefit because we know there will be a lot of value with the streetcar going down that line," Agarwal said.

The Service Life Building is just one, the Duo Apartment development was also listed as a 2024 project driven by the streetcar. These are all the 2024 projects Mayor Stothert listed, but 7 months into the year, there are still 11 that are listed with investment but no name.

In June reporter Molly Hudson asked Mayor Stothert about these 11 projects.

"Can you give us an idea of what types of developments these are,” Hudson asked. “Not yet but we will, I mean we are working with the developers on it, we know that they are going to happen and approximate value," Stothert said.

Now three weeks later the mayor’s office shared they are still not able to discuss the projects until the project owner or developer is ready to announce. Meanwhile, work is underway at the Service Life Building where developers hope to address a need.

"We are trying to provide a solution by adding more affordable housing and especially to renovating these older kind of vacant or underutilized office buildings," Agarwal said.

Rent will range from $700 to $900 when complete Agarwal says that's about 20% - 30% less than a market-rate apartment in downtown Omaha.

Construction just started at the end of June. They hope to open in the fall of 2025.