Rick’s Café for sale?
UPDATE: 5/2: City officials say they will serve Rick’s Café Boatyard owner Rick Albrecht with a notice of default this week.
That move means the city is looking to get complete control over the restaurant, which Albrecht listed for sale.
Meanwhile, Albrecht told us he’s still working with the city but exploring his options.
“I’m just seeing if it’s of interest to anybody else,” he said.
Yes, according to a real estate listing. But news of the troubled restaurant’s listing was a surprise to city officials.
Rick’s Café Boatyard, which sits on city-owned land on Riverfront Drive, is listed by the Lerner Co. for $2.75 million.
Owner Rick Albrecht won’t return calls for comment. City officials doubt the tightly-worded parameters of Albrecht’s lengthy lease agreement with the city gives him any authority to sell the property.
Celebrated at its opening, the pricey restaurant was counted on to anchor new riverfront development. But it closed its doors in January and faces an uncertain future, despite apparent plans to resume operations this spring.
There definitely seems to be outside interest in the property. The city says it will continue courting several prospective tenants for the site. Plus, in the past two days, even I’ve heard from prospective tenants: a noted Kansas City restaurateur and a local private equity firm.
I expect more news to come soon. Stay tuned.
Council Races: Dist. 1
Our pal Roseann Moring took a closer look at the race to represent District 1 on the Omaha City Council.
When Ed Truemper decided to run for Omaha’s District 1 City Council seat, he heard the incumbent was “unbeatable,” she writes. The numbers certainly appear to favor incumbent Democrat Pete Festersen.
Truemper, a critical care pediatrician, will face Festersen, a first-term council member, in the May 14 city election. The two are vying to represent Benson, Dundee, Florence and Westroads, mostly Democratic areas.
Election update: Omaha Steel, crime, tax cuts
Last week was a big one for sparring between the Suttle and Stothert campaigns.
First, there was crime. Jean Stothert held a press conference Monday to challenge Mayor Jim Suttle’s claims that crime rates have been flat during his administration. She cited Omaha Police Department statistics that showed both violent and property crime going up over the last few years. A day later, Suttle fired back in his own press conference. His stats, also from OPD, showed crime dropping, and then staying flat.
So what gives? Both sets of statistics are correct. But we talked to experts who caution that any short-term look at crime can reveal skewed pictures of the real situation.
ICYMI: Big plans for UNMC neighbors
Our colleague Henry Cordes wrote up more about ambitious plans to transform the area around the University of Nebraska Medical Center, as work continues to build a $370 million cancer center there, which is partly funded by a local tax on tobacco.
You’ve likely heard this before: hotels, restaurants, retail, housing and trails.
However, Cordes reports, it’s unclear just when and how the project could proceed. An impasse has developed between med center officials and the owners of a neighboring steel plant over what that 12-acre parcel of land is worth.
Benson “gateway” renovations begin
The eastern entrance to Benson’s main stretch of businesses is getting a face lift.
Mayor Jim Suttle, City Councilman Pete Festersen and a handful of neighborhood leaders met Monday to mark the start of construction near the intersection of North 58th Street and Northwest Radial Highway. The $560,000 project will include changes to the sometimes-dangerous intersection, new landscaping and a new sign and monument.
A similar project at the other end of Benson’s business district is scheduled to start next year. Traffic will be rerouted around the east end of Benson during construction, which is expected to wrap up in July.
Parking, now with plastic
How to Use an IPS Smartmeter from IPS Smart Meters on Vimeo.
Omaha’s new credit card-accepting parking meters have arrived.
The first 400 of the 1,000 new meters went up Tuesday around the Old Market and near the city and county offices a few blocks west. Another 600 are expected to arrive in mid-May and will replace the old, coin-only meters on streets between those two areas. In total, the project will cost $492,000.
The new, solar-powered meters will take coins or cards (with a minimum of a $1 charge for the card option) and offer the city the ability to get real-time information about which meters are in use or out of order. Ken Smith, the city’s parking manager, says that information will help guide future decisions about parking changes in the city.
Fairacres apartment plan is off
The proposed 10-building apartment complex on the sit of the Temple Israel synagogue near 72nd and Cass streets is history.
Campus Crest Communities, the North Carolina company that had pitched the 200- to 250-unit apartment plan, has let its purchase option expire, according to City Councilman Pete Festersen.
The project had met with criticism from neighbors in the area, who worried the apartments — which would have been rented by college students — would create traffic problems in an already-busy area. Developers have pitched plans for other major changes in the area, including a redevelopment of Crossroads Mall into a mixed-use complex with shops, a hotel and a park.
Hard feelings persist over tobacco tax
Hard feelings about the city’s passage of an occupation tax on tobacco to help fund a $370 million cancer center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center were still evident during a hearing before the Legislature’s Revenue Committee.
Paul Hammel reports City of Omaha officials gave a verbal pledge to a panel of legislators Wednesday to collect no more than $35 million from its recently enacted local tax on tobacco.
Riverfront of the future, 1970s style
For a while, at least in the mid 1970s, it looked like the future of Omaha’s riverfront could be something called Marina City.
The plan: apartments, condominiums, shops and a hotel – a modern, mixed-use development that would have provided easy access to downtown and impressive views of the city. As Matthew Hansen explains, things didn’t exactly work out.
But you can check out the plans, and other Omaha architectural dreams of the past at Kaneko. Works from architecture firms DLR, HDR, Leo A. Daly and RDG will be part of an exhibit running through April 27.
Suttle focuses on economy in State of the City
Omaha, according to Mayor Jim Suttle, is making successful strides out of the recession — but plenty of work remains on job growth and crime, particularly in the eastern half of the city.
In his State of the City speech on Thursday, Suttle’s central focus was on the local economy. He said he’s pushed to streamline city government and work with businesses and private groups to make sure spending cuts didn’t hurt city services.
Among the highlights he pointed to: development and growth in companies like Gavilon, building its new headquarters downtown and Airlite Plastics, which is expanding at the Airport Industrial Park. Those two projects plus the opening of a new Walmart in north Omaha will create 1,000 new jobs, Suttle said.