To those living and working in the greater Omaha metropolitan area:
There has appropriately been healthy debate surrounding the idea of the Omaha Streetcar Project. There are some genuine concerns fueled by the seemingly low adoption rate of our existing mass transit system and the perceived price tag.
With these concerns in mind, we believe this project is good for business and for the future of Omaha on multiple levels.
It’s important to take into consideration the development project as a whole. There is a huge investment corridor that corresponds to the streetcar route that would not happen without it – the tools in place to incentivize future development will drive more foot tra c and demand for storefronts and living spaces. These areas are currently poised for improvement and will contribute to the future growth of our metropolitan area in terms of tax revenue and outstanding experiences.
Omaha has a history of taking significant risks to drive future growth. Imagine Omaha without the CHI Health Center, Charles Schwab Field, or the new RiverFront at the Gene Leahy Mall. The revitalization of the urban core, with the streetcar as a key driver, is indeed the right decision for the city, its people and its businesses.
Hindsight shows that each of these past projects was in the best interest of Omaha. The 17,500-seat arena at the CHI Health Center is routinely sold out. Relocating the ballpark downtown spurred a wealth of new businesses in the north downtown area and continues to be a prime, nationally recognized venue. And the RiverFront development has created a safer, recreationally centered space in an urban setting with incredible event potential and attendance, far above the previous environment.
Big decisions demand robust debate and there is room for good citizens to be on both sides of issues. But sometimes, to move forward, a leap of faith and trust in the process is required. Many heads have come together over the years and there are reasons the streetcar hasn’t moved forward until now – because it’s clear the benefits far outweigh the costs.
With that in mind, we want to take this moment to publicly state our position on this historic investment opportunity in Omaha. We fully support Omaha’s investment in urban core redevelopment and the streetcar project.
We believe the answer to the question, “Where can urban core redevelopment and the streetcar take Omaha?” is, to some very rewarding places.
The Omaha business community is, in fact, already seeing significant return on the city’s urban core revitalization plan. From one end of the core to the other, the economics of urban redevelopment planning are proving themselves as dirt moves on projects public and private. In addition to the transformational RiverFront development that spans three parks over 72 acres, we see projects like the Kiewit Luminarium, SteelHouse Omaha, the Builders District, Millwork Commons, UNMC’s Project NExT, The Mercantile and the Joslyn Art Museum addition.
All of these projects, done with business, philanthropy and government all at the table, demonstrate what can happen when cities strategically invest in urban economics and underscore the great momentum building in Omaha for business owners and citizens alike.
The streetcar is a central element in this momentum and overall urban core strategy. Its 5.5 miles of track will connect hubs of employment, living areas and entertainment districts, starting with the Blackstone and UNMC area, to central downtown, and including the CHI Center, Charles Schwab Field and other urban core amenities.
It adds to the walkability and accessibility of downtown businesses, restaurants and entertainment destinations.
Further, it is vital that Omaha works to position itself with the “cool” factor in the downtown and urban areas, giving people from outside of the city just one more reason to consider making Omaha their place of choice to work and live. As we continue to encounter talent-recruitment and retention challenges, this is a real and tangible opportunity to grow that perception.
Importantly, this is an initial phase of the streetcar project, that can serve as foundational to future phases and an expansion of routes to other key areas of our city such as north and south Omaha. We are confident that a prudent planning process will inform this and future phases.
With any investment, it’s important to consider the risk. It’s rare to see everything go exactly to plan. But from a business perspective, we see how investment attracts more investment – both in development and usage. And big things don’t happen unless big changes are made.
We are just some of the business leaders and Omahans who publicly support both urban core development and the streetcar. There are many more, and we encourage you to join us in voicing support and coming at this with a positive – while still realistic – perspective.
This is an important moment. A moment that may very well define the future of our city. Let us take this time to stop and ask ourselves, what does a growing city look like? Let’s add to our laudable list of local treasures and take advantage of the opportunity before us. Let’s look to the future.
We urge Omaha’s business community and citizens to get behind urban core revitalization and the streetcar.
Let’s continue the work and never stop pushing to create bigger and better things for business and the people of our beloved city.
Baxter Auto Group
Adriana Cisneros Basulto
NP Dodge Company
Surreal Media Lab
Union Pacific Corporation
Southside Redevelopment Corporation
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska
Midwest Maintenance Company
Joseph H. Hodges, Jr.
Lion’s Gate Security Solutions
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
Calvin D. Jones
Lion’s Gate Security Solutions
Blair Freeman Group
Emspace + Lovgren
Hot Shops Art Center
Paul and Annette Smith
Paul G. Smith Associates
North End Teleservices, LLC
Carson Wealth Management Group