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Benson Out Back changing the looks of alleyways

Posted at 10:17 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 23:23:51-04

Ted & Wally's owner Joe Pittack strings lights in the alley between his store and Omaha Bicycle Company to highlight the event Benson Out Back.

This walkway between 60th St. and 60th Ave. will be closed for food, music, and art in part of Friday night's event.

Pittack's alley is the first to show off the new way the Benson Improvement District wants to make alleyways more welcoming.

"There are trash problems sometimes, it can also feel dark and unsafe," Pittack said. "I see a lot of people walking through back and forth."

The goal is to make these spaces more comfortable for those walking or biking through the area. Across the street from Ted & Wally's, Found Vintage Market owner Laci Mulick says she walks through that alley every day.

Mulick says Benson is already a nice area, but improving the feel around these paths is the key to push the neighborhood to the next level.

"It's making such a huge comeback and there are so many businesses that have come back and are trying to improve the area, so we need more families down here, we need a safer environment, we need a nice place for people to come and hang out," Mulick said.

When the alley along Ted & Wally's closes Friday, vendors will be selling food and clothes with live music, and an art mural will go up as part of the neighborhood's effort to share their vision.

"We're trying to look at ways to activate alleys so there are less dumpsters and more action," Pittack said. "It makes it safer and more comfortable and just flows people around."

Omaha city councilman Pete Festersen is optimistic about the initiative.

"It's a creative and fun way to use public space and continue our great momentum in the Benson business district," Festersen said.

The event starts Friday night at 6 p.m. at the south alley between 60th St. and 60th Ave.