BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Mayor Rusty Hike is trying to solve Bellevue's identity problem. The city is growing in population, but doesn’t have one clear central location for residents to go.
“If you’re out in west Omaha and somebody says let’s go to Bellevue, where you going? Because we have about five different pods in town,” said Hike.
The bet is on Old Towne Bellevue, giving it a face-lift that changes the image from a small-town downtown with a few notable restaurants, to a hub all city residents could come to for enjoyment.
“We really need that identity,” Hike said.
After years of work, starts and stops, it appears there will finally be some action in Old Towne.
It started on the spot where city hall once stood on Mission Avenue.
A massive development project, with a total cost around $40 million dollars, is planned for that location, along with more land across Jefferson Street that currently houses several businesses.
The new four-story building is expected to contain 200 apartments with space allotted for retail establishments on the ground floor.
The city also plans to invest around one million dollars to put in a public space, and structure the area to be more pedestrian-friendly.
The developers, Mercury Contractors, tell 3 News Now there is a housing need in the area and they love the potential of Old Towne.
President and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Michelle Andahl agrees.
“For a community to feel whole, they want to have that one place that they know everybody can come and get together and share experiences and share the beauty of their city,” said Andahl.
Andahl says this project has spurred interest from out-of-state developers looking to bring more business to Bellevue’s downtown.
“It’s been a really incredible experience to see how much excitement within our community and even with individuals outside our community in other states, hearing about the opportunity and calling to be a part of it.”
Revitalizing Old Towne has been mentioned for years, as the old city hall sat vacant before being torn down.
After the land was sold to Mercury Contractors last year, the possibility of revitalization began to turn into a reality.
But with roughly 10,000 residents within three miles of Old Towne, and more likely to be coming, Hike says the area still has needs. The city remains focused on additions to the planned development.
“We want to service basically the people that are down there, they’re under-served, there’s no grocery, one gas station, there’s just not anything, there’s no place to shop down there, really,” said Hike.
Developers still plan on applying for TIF financing and they said they'd ideally like to start construction in the spring.