The legislative chambers inside the Omaha/Douglas County Civic Center.

The Omaha City Council met Tuesday to approve a preliminary plat for CIP Saddle Creek, despite opposition from neighbors.

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The project near Saddle Creek Road and Pacific Street would divide the 4.5-acre site into three lots, one for a 195-unit apartment building and two for commercial space. It would also connect 49th Avenue from Mulberry Avenue to Pacific Street. 

Opponents said the large apartment building wouldn’t fit the neighborhood. Colleen Tanner said the size would cause issues with traffic and safety.

“These homes that they bought were all in perfect, standing condition,” Tanner said. “They paid the money, now they want to take over and put in this monster size building that doesn’t fit into our neighborhood.”

Other opponents were concerned with the elevation drop at the site. The southeast corner of the proposed apartment building would be about 20 feet lower than the northwest corner. Project attorney Larry Jobeun said developers would follow all regulations to make sure it’s safe for neighbors.

Jobeun said since this is a preliminary plat, there will be time to work out details with neighbors before the final plat goes to the planning board and back to the City Council. A request for tax increment financing is also expected to be voted on in the coming weeks.

The City Council also approved a $494,614 agreement with HDR Architecture to provide architectural and engineering services to design tenant improvements for the new downtown library branch at 1401 Jones Street and distribution center at 84th and Frederick Streets. The City Council approved the lease agreements for both buildings in February

The new downtown branch will be leased for 10 years at $465,000 per year, and the distribution center for $405,000 per year. The city expects $3.5 million and $500,000 in renovations respectively. 

Mayor Deputy Chief of Staff Kevin Andersen said there may be an amendment to the lease agreement that would move some of the renovation expenses to the downtown building’s landlord, White Lotus Group.

Noddle Company was contracted to oversee the move and seek out proposals for design and construction. Andersen said HDR was the only firm to respond.

Andersen said it’s too early to say when the downtown branch will be ready, but the tentative goal is to be open by Jan. 1, 2023. Earlier this month, developers of the Mutual of Omaha skyscraper—which will replace the current downtown library at 14th and Farnam Streets—said they plan to begin constructing the tower at roughly the same time with the current library’s demolition slated for the end of 2022.

“We’ve got contractors on-site who are hard at work and have been for some time,” Andersen said. “As we move further along in the process, a clearer picture of a completion date will come to light.”

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