An $82 million apartment project to scrape multiple structures but keep Omaha’s landmark
OMAHA — An $82 million apartment complex is set to drastically change the look of the busy Dodge Street corridor, cleaning up several structures but preserving and repurposing a historic animal hospital as its “gateway.” entry” of the project.
The new five-story building, with approximately 330 units, will span 2.5 acres southeast of 48th and Dodge streets.
It calls for the demolition of nine homes along Douglas Street and a cluster of commercial buildings facing Dodge. Saved is said to be the structure that housed Pittman Veterinary Services at 4629 Dodge, which is designated as a local landmark.
This one-story Art Moderne brick building designed by John Latenser & Sons of Omaha is to be rehabilitated into a rental office and gathering place for project tenants.
Notable Dr. A. B. Pittman
Dr. Arthur B. Pittman, Omaha’s first African-American veterinarian and notable civic leader, successfully operated a practice off the facility until his death in 1990. Veterinary services continued at the site, which retained the Pittman name.
Built in 1948, the structure is also notable for its curved glass block walls.
The project’s redevelopment team led by Jared Hollinger is seeking city approval for nearly $11 million in a public grant called tax increment funding to help turn the site into apartments.
If approved, a request from the city indicates that construction could begin in November and be completed in late 2024.
City planners and the Omaha Planning Board have recommended approval, although the TIF and related rezoning applications have yet to be approved by the city council.
Brian Akert of Holland Basham Architects told members of the Planning Board on Wednesday that the project targets a “tired” area of Dodge west of Saddle Creek Road.
“Relatively rare example”
Planners say the proposal meets the goals of the city’s master plan by replacing vacant or underutilized commercial buildings along Dodge while incorporating an existing historic structure. The project which lists an address of 4651 Dodge St. is expected to promote public transit by adding housing density along an ORBT line.
“We think this could be a great project for the area,” said Eric Englund, deputy director of urban planning.
Documents submitted to the city indicate that the project site consists of 13 parcels between Dodge and Douglas streets, nine of which are occupied by single-family homes. Homes are to be razed along with remaining commercial lots along Dodge between 46th and 48th, except for the animal hospital.
Renderings presented to the Planning Board show an outdoor courtyard with space for a swimming pool and other amenities such as a fitness center, game room, and individual patios on some units.
The exterior of the Pittman building needs to be restored. According to a historic designation, the structure represents a “relatively rare local example of a streamlined, small-scale Art Moderne commercial building” that was included in the Nebraska Historic Building Survey in 2003.
In total, the apartments are to be about 408,000 square feet and take up about two-thirds of the area bounded by Dodge, Douglas, 46th and 48th streets, according to city records. They identify the applicant/owner as Curtis Leick and say the ownership structure will consist of Burlington Capital and Sower Capital Management as directors.
Each of the approximately 330 units must have an average area of 675 square feet. These will primarily be studios rented at around $950; 111 one-bedroom units rented at around $1,300; and 48 two-bedroom units rented for around $2,000 per month.
Urban planner Don Seten said the project is within the proposed tram influence area, so part of the TIF would be earmarked to help fund the city’s proposed modern tram.
Under the TIF, which is an economic development tool approved by the Nebraska Legislature, new property tax revenue generated by new development in a degraded area can be earmarked to cover eligible expenses incurred by a developer. The city approves the amount of the TIF, the developer obtains a loan, and after a loan period of typically 15 or 20 years, property tax revenues from the project then begin flowing to traditional beneficiaries such as school districts and municipalities. local governments.
From dining car porter to veterinarian and civic leader
The Pittman Building on Dodge Street is also significant for its association with the black vet who funded his education by working as a railroad dining car porter.
According to Omaha’s historical designation, Dr. Arthur B. Pittman was rejected for military service after graduating from veterinary medicine in 1941. He went to work in a large animal practice, which was considered an essential occupation for the war effort. .
He moved from Texas to Omaha, where his clientele included local farmers and the Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack. During a 1986 interview with Dennis Mihelich, a history professor at the University of Omaha, Dr. Pittman was asked if he had experienced prejudice while working for a predominantly white clientele. He replied, “Not at all…they all call me doctor.”
The historical app account goes on to say that Dr. Pittman’s Omaha practice initially began at an old gas station rented from Benson. He moved to 49th and Dodge streets, to a one-story three-bay brick commercial building.
The structure at 4629 Dodge St., designed by John Latenser & Sons, opened in 1949 and was described in an Ebony magazine article as “modern” and “simplified” and built for $50,000, not including 10 $000 for equipment.
Also in 1949, the vet’s wife, the former Elizabeth Davis, earned her law degree from Creighton University in Omaha. She was one of the first women and the first African American woman to do so.
While a veterinarian, Dr. Pittman was also a civic leader. Among his roles were regent of the University of Omaha and president of the Omaha Urban League. He was the first African American to serve on the City Planning Board. The historic designation also describes Dr. Pittman as a key developer of some of the city’s first integrated housing.