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Mayor Stothert shares progress on Omaha projects: 'We're essentially building a new downtown'

Parking and public transportation are on the agenda
Posted at 6:48 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 19:48:44-04

In Omaha, many people are expressing opinions about public land, parking and public transportation — including a streetcar. The biggest advocate for development in the city, Mayor Jean Stothert, spoke about what projects are in the works at a forum hosted by the Omaha Press Club.

People downtown on Thursday said more transportation, people and buildings are a good thing.

"You got a great base to work from. I think some revival is probably needed," Seth Finkel said.

"I think it's a great idea. I think it enables us to all commute together. That's better for the environment, in my opinion, and I think it will draw in more people who want to see the sights if they're not able to," Kenna Strong said.

"I walk around downtown a lot. It's pretty empty a lot of the time, so having more people around, more stuff to do, it's a good thing," said Jackson Weidenfeller.

Stothert is fast-tracking development.

"We're essentially building a new downtown," Stothert said.

It's looking more likely that the Mutual of Omaha will begin construction of its new corporate headquarters — on the site where the Dale Clark Library is — putting up a 45-50 story skyscraper. In the meantime, the downtown Library moves to a historic building on 14th and Jones Streets.

Still under consideration is a library at 72nd and Dodge Streets. During the forum, Stothert was asked if that library will also hold the Dale Clark name.

"No. I will say the new central library at 72nd and Dodge will not be called the Dale Clark Library," Stothert said.

Stothert also wants a streetcar running from downtown to near Nebraska Medicine. She's been asked, "why now?"

"That streetcar is going to tie everything together. Mutual [of Omaha]'s plan is the first example of what is possible if we have the streetcar. Mutual would not build downtown if we did not have that streetcar," Stothert said.

As Stothert builds her vision, some struggle to embrace all the change.

"It's kind of a little overwhelming. I feel like we're becoming an even bigger city than we already are," Stothert said.

Stothert was also asked if she's interested in running for a fourth term. She's unsure but says she has no aspirations to run for Congress.

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