$27 million apartments may rise on old eyesore hotel site at 39th and Dodge

The housing project with rooftop deck seeks TIF subsidy

By: - February 2, 2022 1:57 pm

Rendering of The View on 39th apartments (Courtesy of Avant Architects)

OMAHA — After 15 years of sitting vacant, the midtown Omaha land that once housed the eyesore Travel Inn hotel is poised to be revived with a $27 million apartment building called The View on 39th.

Under a plan by Omaha developer Woodsonia, the acre of ground northwest of 39th and Dodge Streets would become home to a 136-unit structure featuring a courtyard, a community room and a rooftop deck.

The five levels would include 88 underground parking spaces (in addition to 13 stalls on 39th Street).

The View project comes on the heels of an announcement that nearby Mutual of Omaha wants to build a new corporate headquarters at the city’s downtown library site, leaving the 33rd and Dodge Streets neighborhood it has called home since 1939. 

Mutual’s CEO has said to expect more housing development to replace offices currently occupied by the Fortune 500 company. Officials have said that midtown housing will be needed as the University of Nebraska Medical Center expands further with its multibillion-dollar NExT facility.

For its project, Woodsonia is seeking the City of Omaha’s approval for nearly $3.7 million in tax-increment financing to defray eligible costs.

Planners on board

Under the TIF economic revitalization tool, future property taxes on new development are diverted for up to 20 years to pay off certain developer expenses. Property taxes otherwise would go to traditional recipients, such as school districts and local governments.

Omaha city planners are on board with the Woodsonia plan, saying the project meets TIF requirements, including being on a blighted site and not being financially feasible without the TIF subsidy boost.

“Adding apartment housing will place this parcel back into a high usage for the land and bring much needed density to the corridor,” states a memo from Planning Director Dave Fanslau.

Omahans may remember the old Travel Inn as a trouble magnet plagued with safety violations. Positioned at the entrance to the Joslyn Castle neighborhood, the hotel was demolished in 2006 under a mandate from the city. According to the developer, the site has been a neglected dumping area.

Northwest of 39th and Dodge Streets, once home to a trouble-magnet hotel, now a site for proposed new apartments. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

Woodsonia’s Mitch Hohlen said his team is excited for the opportunity to spark momentum for new housing construction north of Dodge, as much of the recent building in that area has been to the south, nearer to the Blackstone commercial district.

To avoid traffic visibility problems from increased traffic, Public Works officials have recommended removing access from both 39th Street on the east and an alleyway to Dodge Street on the west and converting both areas into landscaped green spaces.

They expect those steps to add to the aesthetic appeal along Dodge.

Design is criticized

Joseph Piper is at least one Omahan who has registered alarm with the city. He said an improvement that would make the infill project more “responsible” is to build on a slightly reduced footprint set back farther from 39th Street. 

“This plan’s design can only be described as utilitarian,” Piper said in a letter. “The design and materials have not been given adequate consideration. Neither blend or juxtapose in a complementary manner with the surrounding architecture.”

A market study by Jackson Research and Consulting reported a “deep and growing demand” for apartments, close to 250 new rentals annually, within a mile of that area through 2023, acccording to documents submitted to the city.

The study said that the average occupancy rate among newly constructed apartments in the surrounding area was between 90% and 95%.

Rent would be market rate, running from an average of $930 per month for a 525-square-foot studio apartment to $1,684 for a two-bedroom unit with about 1,150 square feet.

Another midtown proposal

Also considered Wednesday by the Omaha Planning Board was a separate midtown housing proposal by developer Noddle Cos.

The proposed Elmwood Townhomes southeast of 54th and Leavenworth Streets calls for five residential structures (some dwellings are occupied) to be demolished and replaced with a new 19-unit townhouse development.

Those units, each with three bedrooms, would be for sale at an anticipated $450,000 apiece.

That $8.67 million project seeks $1.5 million in tax-increment financing and would start construction this year.

City Council approval for both The View on 39th and the Elmwood Townhomes projects has yet to come.

If all goes as hoped for Woodsonia, the developer would begin construction later this year and open The View in late 2023. The developer — which has developed properties including Topgolf in Omaha and West Center Village at 204th Street and West Center Road — has a tentative agreement to buy the site from an out-of-town owner.


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.