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'We have to have a healthy urban core': Omaha Council paves way for Mutual tower, streetcar project

Posted at 10:26 PM, Mar 29, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The urban core of Omaha is expected to look drastically different in the coming years as the city council gave initial approvals to a variety of related projects Tuesday.

This includes granting $62.8 million of tax increment financing, known as TIF to Mutual of Omaha. This aids them in building a $443 million dollar tower downtown at the site of the Dale Clark Library.

“We want this kind of development in our city,” said Councilmember Aimee Melton.

While the council unanimously approved TIF, opponents pointed out that multiple businesses were vying for the library property. Which is being labeled extremely blighted by the city.

“It’s simultaneously valuable but also extremely blighted, how is that possible?” said Dawaune Lamont Hayes.

The city of Omaha said mutual have choices on where to go and they chose to stay in Omaha.

“Corporations like Mutual of Omaha as proposed, they do have options for site and headquarters type projects and that just is what is it is, it is an investment,” said Kevin Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Stothert.

The move downtown allows around 4,000 Mutual employees to move workplaces from midtown to downtown, an area which has been a priority for the city.

“We have to have a healthy urban core. To this point I cannot think of a single significant city in the United States that is healthy and growing that has a declining urban core,” said Developer Jason Lanoha, who is involved with the Mutual tower.

The council made more moves to bolster their urban core Tuesday. That includes approving the Urban Core Housing and Mobility Redevelopment Plan.

This move paves the way for a streetcar to go down Farnam Street from downtown to midtown.

City leaders and business leaders believe it’ll go a long way in bringing in young people.

“That would attract residents and employers to a spot where candidly they don’t need a car. A car will become a choice for people that live and work in the core of the city,” said Jay Noddle, Chair of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Urban Core Committee.

The plan also includes how the city plans to pay for the $300 million streetcar and the answer is TIF.

It's expected the areas around the streetcar will drastically increase in value. The plan is to take a portion of the increased value of the businesses and homes within three blocks of the route known as a TIF district and use it to fund the project.

“By creating the district and capturing the lift or the increase in property valuation that increase in property valuation can come back and pay for the public infrastructure improvements. IE the streetcar,” said Troy Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff of the City of Omaha.

The total amount of revenue expected by the city from the TIF district is $365 million.

Development is also being sought out on the midtown property Mutual of Omaha is vacating. While nothing is clear now, it was mentioned as a possible site for mixed-use development.

The city also plans to add 1,000 new affordable housing units in the urban core, according to the redevelopment plan passed Tuesday.

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