Omaha Hears Sounds of Music

by | Jun 17, 2007

Metropolis Magazine published a feature last September on the rapid acceleration of New Urbanism in Omaha.

The magazine claims much of the groundwork for Omaha’s urban-design plan was put in place by the Omaha Community Foundation, which started working on a vision for the city in 1999. In 2002 the foundation asked Connie Spellman from the chamber of commerce to spearhead Omaha by Design, a nonprofit set up to focus their efforts, and they brought in Fred Kent of Project for Public Spaces to help.

Omaha by Design came up with 73 urban-design recommendations as part of the Omaha Master Plan. The plan encompasses everything from the landscaping of street corners, the design of important civic sites, and streetlamp choices available for neighborhoods to regional development, protection of watersheds, and the creation of a citywide trail system.

“Corporations were realizing that Omaha didn’t have the energy that a lot of young workers were looking for,” Steve Jensen, Omaha’s planning director says. “They’re saying, ‘It’s important to have a city that’s interesting and active—and a little edgy.’” That’s something community leaders appreciate about Saddle Creek Records. According to the Omaha World Herald, the city helped finance Saddle Creek’s new entertainment complex in NoDo. The 56,000 square feet complex consists of Saddle Creek Records, live music venue Slowdown, the Film Streams art-house theater and spaces in which artists can work and live.

Joe Gudenrath, spokesman for Mayor Mike Fahey, said the mayor’s office was “active in encouraging them to locate in north downtown.”

“We didn’t want to take the chance of losing Saddle Creek Records to another city,” Gudenrath said.