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Developers Will and Robert Scott will have to build a 100,000-square-foot, six-story, $15 million building, with a courtyard accessible to the public, on land they are buying from the city in the West Haymarket.

The developers will have to submit a building permit by Nov. 1, 2021, and they’ll have to have substantial footings and a foundation in place by May 31, 2022, or the city will get to reclaim the land adjacent to the Hudl headquarters building. 

The building requirements and the buyback provision are part of the sales contract for the vacant lot at Canopy and Q streets, part of a two-parcel land exchange being considered by the West Haymarket Joint Public Agency.

The three-member JPA, which built the Pinnacle Bank Arena, delayed a decision Thursday on the land exchange until a Jan. 7 special meeting.

University of Nebraska Regent Tim Clare, a JPA member, said he thinks the project is exciting but wants to give the public more time to weigh in.

Under the proposal, South Canopy LLC, which includes the Scott brothers, is purchasing the lot at Canopy and Q streets for $1.55 million from the JPA. The appraisal price of that land is $1.95 million.

The Scott brothers own WRK, which has developed property in the West Haymarket area.

The JPA can't expect top dollar for the Canopy Street property when it wants to tell the developer what must be built, said Chris Connolly, chief assistant city attorney.

At the same time, the JPA is proposing to purchase property at 215 Seventh St. from the Scotts for $2.064 million. South Canopy LLC bought the former fruit company building for $2 million last year. The current appraisal price is $1.8 million.

The JPA plans to demolish the Demma Fruit Co. building and use the land for a plaza and entry to the neighboring block, which is owned by the JPA, Connolly said. 

The city plans to create a 10-acre “west park” in that area. That park is one of seven "catalysts" identified in the new downtown master plan.

The JPA needs to have the Demma property to get access to the adjacent block, which is expected to be developed into the park and perhaps some commercial property, said Connolly. 

Jane Kinsey, representing Watchdogs of Lincoln Government, a group which originally opposed construction of the arena and has continued to monitor JPA activities, had some objections to the land exchange.

JPA members and city legal staff do not know everyone who might be involved in South Canopy LLC, she pointed out during Thursday's JPA meeting.

"I don’t get that at all. How do you know these are reliable people?” Kinsey asked.

The JPA has protections built into the contract, said Connolly. “If (the developers) don’t do what they say they will do, we get the property back,” he said.

Kinsey pointed out that the JPA membership will change following city elections in May. Both Mayor Chris Beutler and city Councilman Carl Eskridge, who are now on the board, will be replaced by a new mayor and new council appointee.

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

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Reporter

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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