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Proposed 130-unit Midtown apartment complex draws ire, approved by Planning Board

Posted at 7:49 AM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 08:49:44-04

OMAHA. NEB. (KMTV) — Omaha planning board meetings are typically sleepy affairs, but that was not the case Wednesday.

Multiple people, around 10 total, told the planning board to not approve tax-increment-financing, known as TIF, for a new apartment complex in Midtown Omaha.

“This is just off the mark and it’s really half-baked,” said Marty Hosking, an opponent of the project.

The proposed plan from Skylark Development would place 130 apartment units off 38th Avenue and Dodge Street.

Most of them would be priced around $900-1600 dollars a month, with 10 of the units referred to as ‘affordable housing,’ which amounts to around 80 percent of the cost of the regular units.

The apartment also will offer underground parking for residents.

Developers say it will create jobs.

“We are proud of the fact that we will be creating jobs both during the construction and opportunity for work and for those folks that will end up working at the property,” said Stephen Sykes, with Skylark LLC.

Developers say they picked the area specifically because of its proximity to the ORBT busline and UNMC.

“That these residents are going to be able to utilize the investment the city made in the ORBT system,” said Jessica Thomas, who was speaking for the developer.

Some folks rebutted that argument saying residents of the proposed apartment complex aren't likely to be frequent riders of public transportation.

Opponents also questioned why the city would approve tearing down units that give Omahans affordable rent for largely luxury apartments.

“We’re replacing 21 affordable housing units with 10. Just that alone should make us say ‘wait a minute, what’s going on here,'” said Hosking.

Sykes said the company will work to find new homes for residents of the three current buildings.

“One hundred percent want to work with them and will commit to working with them and would be glad to codify that in a document,” said Sykes.

The planning board did unanimously approve the project, with only one member showing hesitation.

David Rosacker said these types of projects give the city needed tax dollars.

“We also have an infrastructure in this city that has to remain healthy and if you don’t allow a city to grow and improve, you do lose your tax base and ultimately it gets worse and worse and worse,” said Rosacker.

Still, Peyton Wells, who spent time Wednesday alerting her neighbors on the project, doesn’t want to see the buildings go.

“It’s so devastating that they’re getting rid of these buildings. It is affordable and beautiful to live in this part of town and those apartments aren’t going to be either of those things,” said Wells.

The project will next go to the Omaha City Council who will give final approval on the project. Opponents told 3 News Now after the meeting that they’ll attempt to stop the project when it goes before the council.

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