17th Street

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln would like to purchase a portion of 17th Street adjacent to campus — shown here looking north from R Street — and convert it into a pedestrian walkway.

ERIC GREGORY, Journal Star

The Lincoln City Council delayed a decision to sell a segment of 17th Street through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for one month, hoping to negotiate a better deal.

Councilmen Roy Christensen and Jon Camp have publicly said the proposed $80,000 sale price to UNL is too low.

Other council members agreed, voting 6-1 Monday to delay any decision on the sale until March 12. Only Leirion Gaylor Baird dissented.

UNL’s real estate manager, John Jensen, said NU objects to the delay. Turning the 17th Street corridor through campus into a pedestrian walkway has been "planned and programmed for some time," Jensen told the council. 

The university wants to turn the corridor into a pedestrian walkway for the more than 4,000 students who live in the area. The walkway would run in front of the new Cather Dining Hall and campus recreation fields.

But Councilman Carl Eskridge wondered why UNL needs a quick decision, considering the street will remain closed for several months to haul away the debris from the imploded Cather-Pound residence halls.

Camp and Christensen have suggested the price agreed to by the city administration, $1 per square foot, is too low.

A fair market value for residential property might be around $5 a square foot. But this land is encumbered with easements, said Michelle Backemeyer, with the city's Urban Development Department.

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But those easements all benefit the university, Christensen pointed out.

“I think there is significantly more value in that property than is being acknowledged in this agreement, and that could be explored," Christensen said in advocating for the delay.

Urban Development Director David Landis said the decision to sell or not sell and at what price lies with the City Council. “You are protectors of the city’s well-being,” he said.

The city must buy land at "fair market value," but it can sell land at a "fair value," which isn't the same standard, Landis said.

"I suggest the value is greater or else we wouldn't be going through all these gyrations over a month delay," Christensen said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.



Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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