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Innovative mixed-use project planned east of Antelope Valley

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A Lincoln developer has plans for an innovative mixed-use project in the heart of the Antelope Valley area.

The project, at the southwest corner of 23rd and R streets, would combine first-floor commercial space with nine apartments on two upper floors, possibly some of them reserved for low-income renters.

Mixed-use building

A mixed-use building proposed for 335 N. 23rd St. would have three levels, with what are described as “micro- restaurant suites” on the first floor and nine apartments on the upper floors. Restaurant names displayed are conceptual, and no tenants have been identified yet. 

The innovative part of the project is two-fold, said developer Ben Kunz.

The plan for the first-floor commercial space is half a dozen "micro-restaurant suites," ranging in size from less than 300 square feet to more than 700 square feet.

Kunz said he envisions the spaces being perfect for "new and emerging food businesses."

That might be food truck owners looking for their first brick-and-mortar site or food professionals who want to take a chance on their own startup restaurant, he said.

Kunz said the concept is based on a project he's familiar with in Portland, Oregon. He said the aim is to offer lease terms that would be shorter than the industry standard, providing flexibility to "meet businesses where their needs are."

Kunz said it's too early in the process to have commitments for the spaces yet, but he has talked to some potentially interested parties.

"We've been talking to people and there's certainly been interest, so we're optimistic," he said.

The other innovative part of the project, Kunz said, is energy efficiency.

He said he plans to make the residential portion of the project net-zero, meaning it generates as much energy as it uses. To accomplish that, he plans to use energy-efficient building materials and appliances and will install solar panels on the roof to generate electricity.

"The hope is that this project proves that both of these (concepts) potentially will work in the Lincoln market," Kunz said.

He said he has a timeline in mind for starting construction on the project but does not yet want to discuss it publicly because of the current condition of the economy and supply chain issues.

Kunz has already had another project in the area delayed, a mixed-use building less than a block away at 2230 R St., because of issues getting necessary electrical equipment.

He also still has to go through a lengthy city approval process, which began Tuesday with a public hearing before the Urban Design Committee, a necessary step because Kunz is seeking tax-increment financing, which would allow him to use future property taxes the redevelopment generates to pay for certain upfront costs.

TIF would likely help pay to demolish the existing structure on the site, which is the former home of Fish Tackle & Supply.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the project, and several of them mentioned how much they liked it.

"I think it's a pretty cool project, and I think the neighborhood is really going to like it," committee member Gill Peace said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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