RALSTON, Neb. (KMTV) — Since 2014, Ralston city leaders have wanted to redevelop areas near 72nd and Main Streets to serve "as a connection between the arena and the city’s downtown." Thanks to a large donation from a former resident, they say the project is on the right path.
Former Ralston resident LaDonna Johnson, who they say believed in the Hinge Project, donated $7.5 million to the city for it.
Ralston Mayor Don Groesser is excited about what the donation might mean for the area:
“LaDonna Johnson’s incredible generosity will unite the community. Her donation allows the City to be a strong partner with the private sector and bring the Hinge project to life. Existing businesses will benefit from the revitalization of our commercial areas. Taxpayers will benefit because the initial investment will come from the Johnson donation rather than City dollars. LaDonna’s amazing gift has ensured the Hinge will truly be a project for Ralston, by Ralston,” Groesser said.
They say the money is already helping with initial development costs and they hope it will benefit Ralston like other historic neighborhoods in the Metro says Ralston City Council Member Michael Sanchez:
“I have businesses in the Benson and Blackstone areas. The Hinge is a similar concept. New housing brings a base of people. Walkable areas with features that encourage pedestrians increase foot traffic in commercial areas. These are exactly the kind of investments that attract entrepreneurs like me.
“And now, with today’s announcement of a generous private donation that will help the City fund much of its investment in the Hinge project, we not only will be improving our local economy, the City will do it in a fiscally responsible way.”
Urban Waters, a development firm that's looking to build a housing development in the area, hopes to capitalize on the plan for growth.
“Ralston is demonstrating a community commitment to growth with the Hinge plan. Your community is sending the message that you are open to new opportunities and new investment,” said Todd Zimbleman of Urban Waters. “Urban Waters is looking forward working as partners with City Hall and the community to create a project that will make Ralston proud.”
Community leaders say Johnson's donation is a "game changer" and that they will work to ensure her wishes are honored.
“Ralston is a great community with a high quality of life because of the foresight of those who came before us. Each generation has planned for the next,” Mayor Groesser said. “Thanks to the Johnson family’s gift, that tradition will continue. Today is a great day for Ralston.”
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