Two redevelopment deals would use a total of nearly $10 million in tax increase funding – one for apartments where the Bishop Heights mall is located and another for an apartment building near 48th and Holdrege streets.
The Bishop Heights Mall redevelopment plans include three phases – and three different developers – that will eventually include the construction of around 230 luxury apartments, transforming the former Shopko that anchored the mall for years into new retail space , possibly with a 150-room hotel. , adding new offices and significantly improving the pathways along the bike paths that run along the east and north portions of the property.
On Monday, Lincoln City Council considered a redevelopment deal for the first phase — the apartments and some of the trail improvements, which will cost about $48 million and use $6.5 million in tax increase funding.
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Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, allows developers to use future property taxes generated by projects to pay for certain upfront costs.
The entire project will cost nearly $90 million and redevelop the mall, which has remained nearly vacant since Shopko closed in 2019 and the retailer went bankrupt. A branch of the Wells Fargo bank and an Arby’s remain there, and the fast food restaurant wants to modernize its building.
Dan Marvin, director of the city’s urban development department, said discussions about the project began before the pandemic hit.
“These things don’t magically fit together,” he said, especially a project like this that includes more than one developer.
EPC Real Estate Group, a company based in Overland Park, Kansas, plans to build a five-story, 230-unit luxury apartment complex.
RED Development, owner of the building that once housed Shopko and other businesses, plans to demolish it and develop either 70,000 square feet of commercial space with retail stores, restaurants and offices, or 50,000 square feet of commercial space. commercial space and a hotel.
White Development Co. owns the former US Bank branch building in the northwest part of the site, which it plans to demolish and convert into one larger office building or two smaller ones, with a maximum of 45,000 square feet of space.
At a public hearing on the apartment redevelopment deal, Marvin said that instead of including affordable units in what will be a high-end development, the developer agreed to contribute $2,500 per unit – which will amount to approximately $500,000 – for the city to use for affordable housing. It could be used to rehabilitate existing apartments or for new developments.
Two bike paths are adjacent to the land, and the developers plan to make major improvements to the trails, including adding three new sidewalk connections to the Helen Boosalis and Rock Island trails from the apartments and commercial areas, additional landscaping and building shared parking spaces at the trailhead and installing bike racks along the south side of the property, where the Rock Island Trail runs parallel to Nebraska 2.
TIF dollars will be used for these trail improvements, including additional trail connections that will encourage people to enter the commercial portions of the development, Marvin said.
Some neighbors have expressed concerns about the potential for increased traffic, but a traffic study submitted with the plans shows that while traffic would increase in the morning, it would decrease by 28% in the evening and 18% overall.
The council has also considered a redevelopment deal for 115 market-priced apartments at 48th and Aylesworth Streets, the second phase of a scheme which includes another apartment block just to the south at 48th and Holdrege Streets.
The redevelopment agreement includes the use of $3.2 million in tax increment funding for the second phase of the project, which includes the apartment building which will be bounded by 48th, 49th, Aylesworth and Martin.
It will include 23 studios, 19 alcove apartments (with more separation for beds), 45 one-bedroom apartments and 28 two-bedroom apartments. There will also be 122 surface parking spaces and nine single-car garages.
The apartment building will look like the apartment building just to the south, but there will be apartments, not commercial spaces, on the first floor, as there is more demand for apartments than spaces commercial.
The TIF dollars will be used for energy efficiency, including solar panels, charging stations for electric cars and more bicycle storage, Marvin said. The developer will also work with StarTran to make improvements to the nearby bus stop to encourage alternative modes of transportation.
The second phase will expand the planned unit development approved in 2016 for the first apartment building to just over 2 acres. The land now houses a number of old commercial buildings and they will be removed.
The board will vote on both agreements on August 22.
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