- Associated Press - Friday, January 13, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A group of Omaha civic leaders has drawn up plans for an estimated $125 million mixed-use development in the heart of north downtown.

The development will be on an 8-acre lot across from the CenturyLink Center. A committee has spent nearly a year studying the site, which will be transformed into restaurants, stores, apartments, open space and possibly a hotel.

“It’s going to be the place to be,” Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority chairwoman Diane Duren said. “And I think this will really help the whole downtown development.” MECA operates both the CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade Park.

A final report on the project was sent this week to the city and MECA, the Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2inzuxX ) reported.

Leaders seem to have resolved the issue of parking, which has been an obstacle to the long-imagined project. Plans call for a new garage and other replacement parking for the 850 stalls that currently exist.

The committee was formed after MECA and the city sparred over the parking situation, and MECA refused to give up convenient parking at the nearby convention center and ballpark.

The report lays out the next steps, including traffic studies and construction for parking, which could take at least three years before groundbreaking can start. Mayor Jean Stothert said the city hasn’t yet identified a developer for the project.

MECA President Roger Dixon said the development has the potential to bring to Omaha more tax money, jobs and activities. Dixon said because attendees at the CenturyLink Center often request for more places to go near the center, the new development could attract more conventions in Omaha.

The city and MECA need to now adopt the report’s recommendations and create a new governing body, which can follow with looking at potential developers.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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