It started in 1998. When the North 27th Street Redevelopment Plan was approved by City Council and then-Mayor Mike Johanns, the clock started on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the area. For 15 years, as improvements occurred in the area, property values increased. By approving the use of TIF, the City agreed to set aside a portion of property tax increases to be plowed right back into additional improvements along North 27th Street.
By approving the use of TIF, the City agreed to set aside a portion of property tax increases to be plowed right back into additional improvements along North 27th Street. The 15 years ended with the 2013 tax year. So, how much TIF was generated? What were the results?
Over 15 years, just over $8.6 million of TIF was generated for use on N. 27th Street. Addition funding sources were also tapped:
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds were used to improve Pentzer Park, the Vine Street streetscape and two business façades.
Federal health and transportation funding played a large role in the People’s Health Center and the Elaine Hammer Trail Bridge.
Private donations -- from foundations, corporations and individuals -- helped immensely with the Elaine Hammer Trail Bridge, Northridge Community Center, the three murals, the Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach facility, and the CenterPointe facility.
Private investment by area businesses and residents was pivotal. The degree of investment is actually indicated by the significant increases in property values, which in turn generated more TIF.
What happened, and when?
• The Lincoln Police Department opened a new Center Team Station at 27th & Holdrege streets.
• Construction of the new streetscape began – new center medians, lights, and the now-familiar triangular area signs were completed in 2001.
• The northwest corner of 27th & Vine streets became the site of new Walgreen’s and McDonald’s stores.
• Leadership workshops for Clinton, Malone & Hartley neighborhood residents and North 27th Street business owners and managers helped start the North 27th Street Business & Civic Association, which promotes North 27th Street as a business location with strong community connections.
• Construction of Sterling Village, new retail at 27th and S streets, is completed The new structure replaced severely dilapidated housing and one “cute little brick house” -- which was moved to Bennet, Neb.
The “Welcome/27th Street Community/Pentzer Park” sign was completed in the northeast corner of Pentzer Park.
The North 27th Street Business & Civic Association and City staff began the process of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) to maintain the North 27th Street landscaping, lighting and signage.
Phase I of the People’s Health Center is completed on the former “Broom Factory” site, on the west side of 27th Street, between the former railroad right-of-way & Y Street.
• Sterling Village & Vina Market gained an additional parking lot with the acquisition and removal of Midas Muffler.
Northbridge Community Center is completed on the old furniture store site, between the new police team station and Pentzer Park. The center is part of CEDARS, an organization that works to help children who have been abused, neglected, and/or homeless achieve safety, stability, and enduring family relationships.
Vine Street Streetscape began in 2004 and was completed in 2005. Sidewalks were widened; retaining walls, left-turn lanes, decorative lights, planting beds, and landscaped center medians were installed. While Vine Street was under construction, sewer and water line improvements were made and the traffic signals at 27th and Vine streets were upgraded.
The North 27th Street BID is created. The North 27th Street Business & Civic Association continues to serve as on-site observers, reporting any problems to City staff.
Pentzer Park received a complete re-do: new playground & equipment, picnic area, trail, basketball court, water fountain, and restrooms. Potter Street, between 26th and 27th streets, was vacated and reused as a parking lot. This provided a parking lot for the park and much safer park access by children and youth participating in activities at the Salvation Army’s community center, just south of the park.
• The new CenterPointe facility at 27th and P streets opened for clients. The beautiful new building replaced two badly dilapidated houses and one church with structural deterioration.
Phase II of the People’s Health Center is completed. The entire facility is heavily used. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department was “spot on” when they originally identified this area of the community as underserved.
• Heartland Optical moved into their new facility right across 27th from the People’s Health Center – the old “Carpenters Union” location. A long-time area business, Heartland Optical doubled their building footprint and expanded services to include retail sales as well as contract sales to corporations.
Façade improvements at 2710 O Street were completed. This building, along with Heartland Optical, used non-TIF funds. In fact, whenever possible, TIF funds were used to leverage other funding sources to invest in North 27th Street.
NeighborWorksLincoln worked with the North 27th Street community to create a building mural at 1434 N. 27th Street. The mural was designed by art students and staff of Clinton Elementary School and painted by local artists. Mural images represent the children’s pride of family, home and neighborhood.
The Elaine Hammer Bridge is completed. This trail bridge over busy North 27th Street improves safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. As part of the trail in the former MoPac railroad right-of-way, the bridge significantly improves access and connectivity to other city trails.
Another building mural at 538 N. 27th is completed. It is titled Two Elephants and the Kingfisher near the Lotus Blossom Sea.
Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach relocates to the far north part of the North 27th Street area. The move to the area at the base of the railroad overpass, north of the Lincoln Water System facility, was not without controversy. However, it did allow for additional investment in the former Carnegie Library building which had been moved to that location in 1995. MTKO also significantly expanded the facility with a large, connected building to the west.
A third building mural, the second at 1434 N. 27th Street, is completed. This one is named Tree of Hope.
Little Saigon Plaza opened for business, including two restaurants, a specialty grocery store, and other businesses.
• The “commons area/green space” at the base of the eastern end of the Elaine Hammer Bridge is completed, including a brick arch sculpture that was partly shaped by neighborhood youth. The area includes a paved labyrinth and a bike repair station
TIF set-aside ends with the end of 2013. However, some of the funds were committed to additional projects to be completed in the next year or so.
Sidewalk repairs and new curb ramps all along both sides of North 27th Street were completed.
The new right-turn lane at 27th & R streets began providing additional traffic safety. The street project included re-configuring the property lines and sale of enough “backyard” to the two adjacent residential properties to make their lots a standard, buildable size.
Installation of two new bus shelters should begin soon -- pending arrival of materials. One shelter will be just south of Holdrege Street on the west side of 27th Street and the other will be by Clinton Elementary School at 29th and Holdrege streets.
Construction of Hartley Flats, a 13-unit multi-family housing project on the east side of 27th, between R and S streets, should be starting any day. It will be ready for renters in early 2015.
The center median landscaping will be updated with materials better able to handle the extreme environment of a very busy four-lane street. Depending on weather and other factors, the new landscaping should be installed by spring 2015 or possibly earlier.
Erickson Sullivan Architects and Olsson Associates are collaborating on design of decorative lighting for the Elaine Hammer Bridge. In addition, Parks & Recreation is addressing problems with the solar lighting on and around the bridge and adding trash receptacles for the plaza under the bridge.
Surplus properties available
Even though the area-wide TIF set aside has ended, redevelopment with TIF assistance is still possible with Lincoln City Council approval on a project-by-project basis. In fact, the City still has surplus properties available for redevelopment along North 27th Street. All were properties that were acquired through voluntary sales: 344, 350, 534, 1420, 1425 and 1447 N. 27th Street, 2701 R Street, and 2716-18 Starr Street. Anyone interested in buying any or all of these properties should contact Urban Development Department’s Real Estate Division at 402-441-7864.