The Civic Auditorium in Omaha was a gathering spot for concerts, trade shows, conventions and more. After a long history it was demolished several years ago. By now there should be a multi-use development project in its place but it remains an empty lot. Mayor Jean Stothert says Tetrad Property Group agreed to a development plan in 2014 but the city received notice on Tuesday they were pulling out of the deal.
Mayor Stothert says the city wanted a mixed-use development including a major tenant. The original offer stated they would pay $20 per square foot of land instead of the $40 going rate. The city also agreed to demolish the auditorium and Tetrad would reimburse the city for the cost with the TIF dollars they were going to receive.
Mayor Stothert says, “Fast forward four years later, they sent us an MOU at the end of February and asked for things we have not heard of before. They were asking for the land for free, for no cost to them at all. At $20 a square foot that land would have brought into the city about $7.9 million. They wanted us to waive the demo cost. They wanted us to give them Park 5, the parking garage. They wanted us to own it but let them use it at no cost and they wanted us to build a parking garage for them that would have cost about $30 million for the taxpayers.”
The city countered that offer and said if they got a major tenant with 1,500 employees or more and built a major office building, Omaha would give them the land at no cost and waive the cost of the demolition of the Civic. Mayor Stothert says they quickly responded saying they were out.
Tetrad complained there were too many obstacles with other development projects in the works in the downtown area and that slowed down their progress. Mayor Stothert disagrees saying development is good for the city and they can’t just stand still waiting for one developer to decide what they are going to do.
The good news is the property is back on the market and the city already received a call from one developer that is interested in the site.