Urban Development proposes downtown revitalization project

LINCOLN, Neb (KOLN) - Over the next 15 years, the downtown Lincoln area will transform even more - improving sidewalks, alleyways, landscape, and pedestrian crossings.

(Source: KOLN).

That's if city council members ultimately approve a $5-10 million revitalization project.

The Director for Urban Development says the best time to do this project is now and it's all because of Emerald Ash Borer.

Urban Development Director Dan Marvin says it started with thinking of how the city would replace the 43 ash trees in downtown Lincoln.

"Along with that, we have sidewalk repairs that need to be done, so we were looking at a comprehensive way of addressing an entryway district which is O Street, and north and south on 9th and 10th Street,” said Marvin.

The plan would make improvements over 15 years but it has five main goals. Some are changes that could start as soon as 2021.

This includes entryway enhancements, like a sign showing you're entering the downtown area, fixing deteriorating sidewalks and crosswalks.

Also fixing benches or updating landscaping and public-private partnerships to redevelop longstanding buildings along O Street.

Another key point for that project is revitalizing alleyways, and the one off of 13th and 14th and O Streets is the perfect example of one that could be used for other things.

"There's a number of alleyways that just fill up with water after a rain and some of it makes it difficult to actually use, especially if they fill up with water, don't drain and then they freeze,” said Marvin.

If approved by the city council, it would allow the city to use property tax dollars from valuation increases within the downtown district and reinvest that money back into the area.

Marvin says the redevelopment would generate an estimated $5.2 million from 2020 to 2034.

"We have to find creative ways to do repairs on sidewalks and streetscape areas because the funding really isn't there,” said Marvin.

As of now, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing for the proposed revitalization project on March 4th, and it's expected to then go in front of Lincoln City Council on March 30th.