A large culvert that once carried Antelope Creek below O Street is creating headaches for a local business.
The 15-foot-wide culvert was discovered when owners of Viet Hao, an Asian market, decided to expand their business and bought property at 2365 and 2373 O St., across the street from the existing market.
The abandoned tunnel, under part of their new property, needs to be filled in so owners Hung and Thu Nguyen can rebuild on the property.
That cost made the project too expensive, so the Nguyens came to the city for help, Urban Development Department Director David Landis said during a public hearing on the project.
The solution is tax-increment financing. The owners will use TIF for the excavation work, Landis said.
The culvert was part of the original Antelope Creek channel and was abandoned in the early 1900s with the construction of the long-box culvert near Elliott Elementary School. The culvert near Elliott later became part of the Antelope Valley project.
Years ago, the city filled up this unneeded tunnel, which runs under O Street, but stopped at the private property line, Landis said.
The $128,000 TIF project is unusual in several respects. It is among the city’s smallest TIF projects, and the family members who own the building did not use a lawyer for the redevelopment agreement with the city, Landis said.
The City Council approved changes this week to the city's comprehensive plan to include the Asian market. The redevelopment agreement, which includes the TIF funding, should come to the council in early April, Landis said.
TIF allows the developer to use the growth in property taxes that is the result of the redevelopment to pay for some project costs. The city expects the assessed value of the property will increase by at least $1 million when the project is finished.
Project a distant dream
Don’t count on any construction related to the Cornhusker Highway and 33rd Street project for a very long time.
The Railroad Transportation Safety District and city hope to remove railroad crossings near the intersections off 33rd and Cornhusker and 35th and Adams. The two governmental units are involved in an economic development study of the area, so some residents think construction will begin soon.
But construction on the project, expected to cost between $70 million to $80 million, won’t begin until at least 2026, assuming the project moves forward, said City Councilman Roy Christensen.
New parking garage for downtown
A new city garage in downtown Lincoln will include first-floor space for retail, if it gets built.
During recent budget-related discussion, City Councilman Jon Camp questioned the wisdom of always requiring first-floor retail space on garages and other new buildings in the downtown area.
Camp pointed to the empty first floor of the Latitude Apartment complex for students at 235 S. 11th St. Why force developers to build first-floor retail if it is just going to be empty, he asked.
The city intends to continue requiring first-floor retail because of its importance to the vibrancy of the downtown area, administration staff said.
“Generally speaking, we want to have an active first floor,” said Wayne Mixdorf, the city’s parking manager. The older parking garages that don’t have that active first floor don’t add much to the neighborhood, he said.
Having people in and around buildings, on the sidewalks, is consistent with good urban development, Landis said.
Areas such as those around the state and federal parking garages — where there are cars but few people — are something you try to avoid, he said.
The city is still assessing whether it can afford one or two new parking garages, and staff are looking for a garage site that would serve the southeast downtown area.
The city would use revenue bonds for construction. A 700-space garage, with first-floor retail, would cost about $21 million, Landis told the council.
New County Attorney Pat Condon
Pat Condon has been named the Lancaster County attorney by county commissioners. The decision is no surprise, since Condon has been the acting county attorney and has filed to run for the elected office this year.
The commissioners had one other local attorney, Rick Boucher, apply for the position. But Boucher did not file as a candidate for the office, which commissioners said they expected of anyone who wanted to be appointed to the post before the election.
Boucher, a Democrat, ran for the county attorney’s seat in 2010, but lost to Joe Kelly. Kelly, the new U.S. Attorney for Nebraska, recently resigned his Lancaster County job.
Condon, a Republican, has been chief deputy for seven years and has worked for the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office for 28 years.
He is the only candidate to file for county attorney in the 2018 election cycle.
Irish roots for Beutler
Mayor Chris Beutler, who will be getting recognition Friday from the Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Lincoln Irish community, has Irish roots.
Beutler’s great-grandmother on his father’s side was a Tangney. His great-grandmother lived in Falls City and baked the greatest of pies, the mayor remembers. Beutler also has Swiss and German roots.