- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A group led by the Peter Kiewit Foundation has been purchasing properties in downtown Omaha where it will create an “arts and trades” district.

Future Forward LLC is investing about $7 million to buy buildings and offer affordable leases to entrepreneurs, artisans, techies and other creative tenants. The group has assembled more than 25 acres with buildings containing 175,000 square feet of space in an area north of TD Ameritrade Park, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1V7LwYz ) reported.

Lyn Wallin Ziegenbein, a spokeswoman for Future Forward, said the investors don’t intend to develop the land. But they plan to clean up and make structural improvements to the neighborhood.

The investors, who wish to remain anonymous, hope the district will revitalize the area formerly dominated by heavy industry and commerce, where it seems development has stalled.

“We want to be a good steward of this section of the community, which is fragile and has, in some ways, been abandoned,” said Ziegenbein, executive director emerita of the Peter Kiewit Foundation.

Patches of the area have been so neglected and isolated that chop shops and other unlicensed operations have been able to move in, she said. Future Forward was concerned that the baseball stadium, the CenturyLink Center and other recent projects could be harmed if future use of the area wasn’t planned.

Covenants will be placed on properties owned by the group to guide growth and ensure that “the intended uses and engaging personality of the neighborhood can take root,” according to a statement outlining the initiative.

Six operations, including Bench collaborative workshop space, Reclaimed Enterprises, Barnwood Trays and Habitat for Humanity, already rent space in Future Forward properties.

The group’s investors want the creative spirit at places such as Bench to encourage others to join the emerging “makerhood” neighborhood, Ziegenbein said. Retailers, shops, galleries and residential options also are expected to be welcomed into the area as it matures, she said.

“We’re here to help this neighborhood be what it can be for and by itself,” Ziegenbein said. “There’s a lot of opportunity here.”


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

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