Library shifts will spur more construction at Omaha’s busy 72nd and Dodge intersection

By: - May 24, 2023 12:38 pm

Rendering of the new main public library for City of Omaha at 72nd and Dodge Streets. (Courtesy of HDR/APMA)

OMAHA — Construction activity will step up soon at one of Omaha’s most prominent intersections, 72nd and Dodge Streets, as the “Do Space” is leveled to make way for the city’s new main library.

Projected to open in 2026, the future library, which is boosted by a $20 million commitment from the City of Omaha, is to span 96,000 square feet at the southwest corner.

72Dodge library rendering exterior
Rendering of planned new library southwest of 72nd and Dodge Streets that would incorporate services of the existing Do Space technology library. (Courtesy of HDR/APMA)

Partners including the philanthropic organization Heritage Omaha, call the facility one of the largest investments in a public library in the U.S. in recent years. Estimates have put the cost at as much as $150 million.

“This vibrant, inclusive library will invite people in to build community and access the free resources they need to reach their potential,” said Omaha Public Library system Executive Director Laura Marlane. 

Do Space services are to move June 13 and reopen June 17 in a renovated area of the Milton R. Abrahams library branch near 90th and Fort Streets. The community technology library, since its founding in 2015, served more than 92,000 members through free access to tech and innovative learning experiences.

A celebration marking the temporary shift to the Abrahams branch is planned for June 24.

We worked with Omaha Public Library to ensure that the renovated Do Space area at Abrahams Branch had room for all the things people love about Do Space and so much more.

– Krystal Rider, Do Space director

As demolition and site work launches at 72nd and Dodge, transformation of the longtime Crossroads shopping mall site continues to the north across Dodge Street. That project, about 40 acres, is being assisted with $80 million in tax-increment financing, the largest ever approved by the Omaha City Council.

Total transformation cost of the mixed-use Crossroads venture, led by Lockwood Development, is expected to surpass $600 million.

Once the new main library is done, Do Space activities are to be integrated into that new facility.

72Dodge library interior
Inside the planned new library southwest of 72nd and Dodge Streets. (Courtesy of HDR/APMA)

“We worked with Omaha Public Library to ensure that the renovated Do Space area at Abrahams Branch had room for all the things people love about Do Space and so much more,” said Krystal Rider, Do Space director.

She said visitors to the Abrahams Branch will have access to one of Omaha’s only free podcast studios and a design studio, along with other popular Do Space features such as 3D and active learning labs.

Said Rider: ”Just as we’ve done since opening in 2015, Do Space will continue to be a place for makers, creatives, and anyone with an interest in learning.”

An agreement approved last summer between the City of Omaha and the nonprofit Community Information Trust, an arm of primary fundraiser Heritage, called for the city to contribute $20 million toward the project that is to become a part of the Omaha Public Library system.

The agreement calls for the city to continue to support the library system at or beyond the 2022 budget commitment.

The new main library is part of a series of library shuffles and changes in Nebraska’s largest city, which have not come without controversy.

The main public W. Dale Clark Library, which opened in 1977 at 15th and Farnam Streets, recently was demolished from the core of downtown’s business district. The $600 million Mutual of Omaha office tower is now under construction there.

A downtown library branch is opening elsewhere, in a newly renovated spot at 1401 Jones St.

Administrative and distribution components of the W. Dale Clark Library were relocated to a former Shopko building the city is leasing south of 84th Street and West Center Road.


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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.