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New park planned for Old Market, community members give input

The plan includes an open garden space at 13th and Jones
Posted at 9:54 AM, Jun 04, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Downtown Omaha is seeing multiple plans for revitalization. The newest plan is an open garden space on 13th and Jones.

Developers hope to create a number of gardens, a cafe and a lawn space in the area that currently serves as a parking lot.

Plans include a rain garden, a garden patio, a garden cafe, a play garden and more.

They're looking to create an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of downtown.

"We’re trying to find a real balance between creating a green lush garden. An immersive kind of place where people in the city can escape a bit. An oasis so to speak in nature, away from the city and the bustle of the very day life of the city," said Kim Cooper, a senior associate with James Croner Field Operations, the company working on the project.

They say there aren't many open green spaces in the downtown area right now.

"We did some studies early on and within a ten-minute walk, there isn’t much that’s a public green park space that you can sit. Besides some of the larger, just on the outskirts of that is the Gene Leahy mall and the parks and open space along the river. But in the city there isn’t much," Cooper said.

The company welcomed community members to give input and feedback on the plans Friday. Those who utilize the downtown area expressed excitement for the new park and said you can never have too much green space.

"The Leahy mall is great but that's a few blocks away from this part of downtown. This part of Old Market will really benefit. There’s nothing there’s just that little tiny corner right now which is the pop-up oasis. So being able to add this is huge. It's going to be huge with all the new apartments and lofts being built. People need outdoor space," said Sara McClure, a community member who works downtown.

Developers are hoping the garden attracts people like McClure, saying their target audience is those who live and work in the area, but also the rest of the Omaha community.

"We want it to be for the neighborhood or the area for the community, for the Old Market area. Those would be key people. But we also understand Old Market is a destination and an area for people all over Omaha. It’s a very vibrant and eclectic entertainment area and people come here to dine or go to some of the cultural or art institutions too ... and we want them to enjoy the space as well," Cooper said.

The company is hoping to take the feedback from community members and include those in the plans, going back to the drawing board. They say the earliest it'd be complete is 2023, but there's no set timeline as of now.