Lincoln’s Telegraph District sees rapid growth since 2015

Business is booming in Lincoln's Telegraph District
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 10:31 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - So removed from the lonely self-checkout kiosks of most grocery stores, the lines at Open Harvest Co-Op Grocery hum with talk of weather and life.

“The people that work here get to know you by name or by the things that you buy all the time,” said Hannah Wiebe, an Open Harvest customer.

But soon, Open Harvest will be serving its customers and community owners from a different hub in one of Lincoln’s fastest growing areas, the Telegraph District.

“We realized that there are a lot of great opportunities that come with moving, and we’re excited that things that are coming together and it will really set up open harvest for decades to come,” said Amy Tabor, Open Harvest’s general manager.

Employees are looking forward to the change, hoping it can grow the reach of the community-focused store.

“We have the opportunity to be close to a high school, to be close to downtown, not too far off from the college campus,” Elizabeth Norris, a worker at Open Harvest, said. “So it really just checks all the boxes on the demographics we’re looking at.”

Not so long ago, the Telegraph District was designated a blighted area, but in 2015 Nelnet and Speedway Properties came forward with a plan. By August of 2016, ALLO moved into an old warehouse, becoming the district’s first tenant.

The Mill became the first retailer in the area in December of 2017. People like Anne Sweet, who co-owns Lotus House of Yoga, fell in love with the developer’s vision.

“I could visualize what the plan was that the Smith family was trying to do to that area,” Sweet said. “And I was like, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of that.’ So we just jumped right on board.”

Anne said Speedway properties has bent over backwards to keep and bring in strong businesses in the area.

“The other thing is our neighbors are incredible,” Sweet said. “Just these businesses who we all kind of bonded together and like, ‘What can we do right now to support ourselves?’ and that really is the definition of community.”

The district has already been the site of two construction phases which restored historic buildings and developed three residential buildings. A third phase is being planned.

Open Harvest Co-Op will join the Telegraph District in early 2024. It’s capital campaign is $4.2 million in total.