The NuStyle company has done more to bring people back to downtown Omaha than any other
developer in the past 20 years. The cutting-edge developments they've created transform
vacant downtown buildings into architecturally appealing housing and shops while
maintaining the unique historical characteristics of each site.
Lofty Living: Historic redevelopment like this loft conversion in
Omaha, Neb., can help reinvigorate a city's downtown.
The Lofts, one of NuStyle's more recent projects, combines the best of old and
new. The developers have purchased three historic warehouses, which were built from 1899
to 1919. They are taking advantage of the era's solid construction practices by leaving
the original brick walls and steel joists in place to create a unique, visually appealing
living environment. Central to the interior of the building will be a five-story atrium.
In a unique approach to adding green space to living space, waterfalls, skylights, plants
and a footbridge are planned for the interior courtyard, which some apartments will
Although parking is planned for the development, residents may find they don't need it.
With 30,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and a location five blocks from
a business center, jobs, shops and entertainment are all within an easy walk. For those
who work at home, NuStyle is bringing these historic buildings up to date by providing
high-speed Internet access to every room. But this great project won't be for urban
professionals alone as apartment prices will be quite affordable.
Residents are optimistic that growth and development downtown will continue -- due in
part to innovative smart-growth developments like The Lofts.
Photo by Rob Parolek
Expansion (Lincoln) Highway Boondoggle Crowds Out Transit
According to Nebraska's transportation planners, expanding state and
local highways at a cost of $375 million is a good investment -- even though the same
amount of money would fund Lincoln's Metropolitan Transit Authority, at 2001 spending
levels, for roughly 24 years.
As part of this highway spending, a two-mile segment of the I-80 near Lincoln will be
expanded at a cost of $15.69 million. Another nine-mile segment of I-80 will be expanded
at a cost of $45 million over five years. Supporters claim these expansions are needed to
address congestion problems caused by sprawling development. The area in question, between
Omaha and Lincoln, has seen explosive growth in the last several years, altering suburbs
and downtown areas.
But are massive highway projects the best means to deal with this growth? According to
the most recent transportation research, the answer is no. Experts have found that adding
lanes to highways and interstates actually draws more drivers to the road, erasing many of
the gains created by new construction. Extending roads and building new highways also
increases the spread of suburban sprawl, which in turn makes traffic worse.
This is already happening in the Omaha-Lincoln region, where developers are
contemplating construction in newly accessible areas. With the ongoing threat of
development, Lincoln has been forced to agree to a study of potential development of the
Stevens Creek watershed east of town.
Clearly, this region of Nebraska has enough suburban sprawl, and the expansion of I-80,
instead of easing traffic, will just make things worse. The tens of millions of dollars
Nebraska is set to spend on new and expanded roads could be put to much better use
building and expanding the area's public-transportation system.