Despite an OK from the Omaha Planning Board, controversy around the proposed demolition of three homes in the city’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood hasn’t subsided.

On Nov. 3, the planning board gave Skylark LLC a unanimous first round of approval to build a seven-story, 131-unit apartment building near Dodge Street and S. 38th Avenue. The construction’s projected cost is $28 million — $3.8 million of that would come from a city subsidy called tax-increment financing (TIF) used to address “blighted” and “substandard” areas. The Omaha City Council would still need to give the project several readings and two votes before the plan becomes final.

Controversy has arisen due to the proposed demolition of three buildings along 38th Avenue. The three apartment buildings were built in 1902, 1912 and 1914 and currently hold 21 affordable units, according to opponents.

On Monday, East of 72nd, a group who’s protested the demolition on social media, said new letters of opposition had been submitted to the city’s planning director, including one from Trevor Jones, CEO of History Nebraska, according to the group. Among the complaints were questions as to why a vacant lot on the northwest corner of N. 39th and Dodge Streets a block away was not considered, and whether the project really satisfied TIF standards.

The Reader recently published a story showing that TIF projects often congregate in areas like Blackstone, Midtown, Downtown and Aksarben. The most impoverished areas such as North and South Omaha, see comparatively little public investment.

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Chris Bowling

Chris has worked for The Reader since January 2020. As an investigative reporter and news editor he’s taken deep dives into topics such as police transparency, affordable housing and COVID-19. Originally...

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