OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Mayor Jean Stothert and the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to kick off the nearly $300 million Riverfront Revitalization project.
The groundbreaking marks the beginning of an approximately four-year construction process, currently planned for overall completion in late 2023.
MECA will oversee the construction, maintenance and activation of the renovations. Katie Bassett, MECA's new Vice President of Parks, will supervise the endeavor.
Gene Leahy Mall will close in part beginning on Wednesday, March 6. Fences will start to go up around the area, with traffic lane closures starting around morning rush hour. Tree removal will immediately follow, weather permitting.
According to a press release from MECA, park construction will have the following impact on the area:
- There will be an immediate loss of sidewalks and parking on the north and south sides of Gene Leahy Mall. Meters on Douglas Street from 10th to 14th Streets will be removed, along with meters between 13th and 14th on Farnam Street. Sidewalks will also be closed at these locations, and intermittently closed in other areas around the park as construction requires.
- The sidewalk on 14th Street between Farnam and Douglas will remain open at this time and parking on 14th Street will still be available.
- The parking lane and one driving lane on Douglas (10th to 14th) will be closed during construction; the other three lanes will remain open.
- The slides will not be open during construction.
- Food trucks on Thursdays will relocate from the Mall to Dodge Street, between 14th and 15th Streets in the spring. They will also park on 14th Street from Capitol to Dodge.
- The tree canopy in Gene Leahy Mall will be replaced tree for tree, with trees already standing 15 to 20 feet tall at time of planting. The Public Art Commission is assisting with the relocation of artwork currently displayed at the Mall to new Omaha park locations.
Demolition and grading will be underway by May.
The Gene Leahy Mall is the first of three parks in the area to undergo renovations, including the Lewis & Clark Landing and Heartland of America Park.
The last two parks won't close until 2020.
Watch a live-stream of the groundbreaking event here: