APRIL 2, 2013 (LINCOLN, NEB.)—The federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is still the key that opens doors of opportunity for communities desiring to undertake critical need community and economic development projects. Today at the State Capitol, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and several communities extolled the benefits of the CDBG program through examples of the latest outstanding projects.
Gov. Dave Heineman kicked off the celebration by proclaiming March 31-April 6, 2013, as Community Development (CD) Week in Nebraska.
“We are pleased with the strong and supportive partnerships between volunteers, local organizations, government agencies and the private sector,” said Gov. Heineman, “Community Development Week stands out as an important example of the accomplishments that can be made when working together.”
DED administers CDBG funding for all communities outside the cities of Bellevue, Lincoln and Omaha.
“During the past five years, DED has invested in over 340 projects statewide providing more than $60 million in CDBG funding in combination with more than $133 million leveraged state, local and private matching funds,” said Catherine D. Lang, DED director. “Over 305,000 people have benefited from these projects—more than 173,000 of them considered low- and middle-income wage earners throughout Nebraska.”
The 2013 Governor’s Showcase Community Award went to Falls City.
Falls City (pop, 4,316) is described as one of the best small communities in the state, having a greater than five year track record at establishing and cementing valuable partnerships among citizens, business owners, and local and state governmental organizations, among others.
Its’ most recent success was the announcement by Consolidated Grain and Barge (CGB), headquartered in Mandeville, La., to locate a $23 million high-speed grain terminal on 162-acres of Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail serving the industrial site. The terminal expects to handle high volumes of grain and soybeans, create full-time jobs, and help spark further economic development projects in the area. CGB broke ground in December and expects to be operational by September 2013. In addition to CDBG funding, the project is using LB840, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and EDGE funding, as well as New Market Tax Credits.
The city’s sports complex has new baseball and softball fields thanks to a community-wide grassroots effort that surpassed the $1.765 million fundraising goal. Included in the funding was a $100,000 Peter Kiewit Foundation grant and money from the Richardson Foundation, several local fundraising projects, the local lodging tax, 350 private donors, and City of Falls City in-kind contributions. Players can expect to batter up this summer.
The city’s Main Street district was recently spruced up thanks to a $573,000 Downtown Revitalization Streetscape project. Main Street Falls City led the efforts. With a $350,000 CDBG award from DED, the City was able to match $111,000 along with $112,000 from Main Street.
For information on the Falls City project, contact Kevin Malone at 402-245-2491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2013 Governor’s Showcase Community—Honorable Mention Award went to Cozad.
“Collaboration is King,” in Cozad where the City has partnered with the Chamber, CDC, DAD, Cozad Housing Authority, Downtown Business Improvement District, and Cozad Schools to accomplish many projects. These include recruiting new businesses, such as Cooper’s Best Flour, a producer of pancake flour, CCB Nebraska, an inbound call center, and Industrial Skins that manufactures ceiling tiles for restaurants—all contributing to 100 new jobs.
Additionally NE Ag & Irrigation constructed a $1million facility, and Colorado Biolabs invested nearly $500,000 in new infrastructure at its existing facility. A new bicycle store, dental office, newspaper, call center, and expanded auto parts store helped expand the economic base. New rental and single-family homes were built, and a city block was developed into additional housing units.
During the past five years, Cozad increased its tax base by nearly $19 million or 13 percent. A $500,000 Downtown Revitalization grant helped the city strengthen its economic landscape through the rehabilitation of downtown buildings.
For information on the Cozad project, contact Robyn Geiser at 308-784-8006 or email@example.com.
The City of Bellevue recognized the Olde Towne Development Committee for its partnership in the Olde Towne Bellevue project, funded in part through CDBG money. The redevelopment included upgraded playground equipment and accessibility improvements to Thompson Park, installation of sidewalks and curb ramps in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act, creation of a Commercial Façade Rehabilitation Program, and continuation of the Housing Rehabilitation Program.
For information on the Bellevue project, contact Abby Highland at 402-293-6596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Lincoln recognized 18 well-designed townhouses that comprise Antelope Creek Village and NeighborWorks®Lincoln’s vision that made it happen.
In 2000, the organization then known as Neighborhoods, Inc., envisioned a new housing development and extensive rehab to existing housing primarily on the block bounded by 23rd and 24th, P and Q streets (due to several vacant parcels, and its proximity to the Antelope Valley redevelopment project).
In fall 2003, NeighborWorks® Lincoln acquired its first parcel, and in 2005, the Antelope Valley Redevelopment Plan was approved by the mayor and city council. Four years later, the plan was amended to include the Antelope Creek Village project. By then the plan included a mix of office and retail space, 18 detached single-family homes, and ten two-story condos.
The mayor and city council approved TIF funding the extend, relocate and connect water mains, sanitary sewer lines, and other utilities; to complete property acquisition, grade the site, and install a geothermal heating and cooling system. This spring, TIF will go toward completing public right-of-way landscaping.
When the national housing market collapsed in 2009 and 2010, a new market analysis showed that townhouses were selling well in Lincoln so the plan was revised. Three floor plans were made available, offering two- and three-bedroom townhouse units with basements, second floors and garages. In 2011, the first six units were built. Construction of the second set of six units began last fall and the final six units are currently being built.
About half of the units are owned by low- and moderate-income wage earners, all of whom have completed NeighborWorks® Lincoln’s Homebuyer Training, funded by CDBG. The FIRST HOME program also has assisted with down payment expenses.
For information on the Lincoln project, contact Opal Doerr at 402-441-7852 or email@example.com.
The City of Omaha recognized the following projects:
• RDG Planning and Design, formed in 1989 as the Renaissance Design Group, is a regional leader in urban design, working in more than 300 communities throughout the Midwest. It played a significant role in creating the South 24th Streetscape and gateway sculpture, “The Tree of Life,” which reflects South Omaha’s history and ethnic heritage. The project included CDBG funding. The South Omaha Business Association raised $200,000 for streetscape improvements, and the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance raised $5,000 for “The Tree of Life.”
• Urban Village Development/the Avanza Mural. For years, Park Avenue area had a reputation for drug and prostitution activity. Urban Village Development decided it was time to transform the area and began renovating eyesore properties into upscale rentals. In the process, more than $300,000 in private funds went toward improving landscaping and streetscapes, including installation of 25 old-fashioned streetlights. At the same time, the City was creating a gateway to the area, making street improvements along 29th Street from St. Mary’s to Leavenworth streets, funded with CDBG and street bond money.
Witnessing this transformation inspired the creation of a mural on a large blank wall along Park Avenue. Partners in the project included the Nash-Finch Company, owner of the building with the blank wall. The Leavenworth Neighborhood Association and Ford Birthsite Neighborhood Association helped by applying for and receiving grants from Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle’s Neighborhood Grants Program and Mutual of Omaha Neighborhood Grants Program.
Local artists were enlisted to incorporate the “papel picado” (traditional Mexican cut paper art) into the mural to promote community gardening and food production. Finally, Jackson Elementary School’s sixth graders, along with other volunteers helped paint the mural
• Littleton Alston, a Washington D.C. native, attended the Duke Ellington High School for Arts and studied sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University. By the time he arrived in Omaha in the 1980s for a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, he was building a reputation as an avant-garde abstract sculptor.
Alston created “The Jazz Trio” sculpture at 24th and Lake streets, which depicts the vitality of North Omaha back when it was known as a thriving community of jazz musicians and music. The sculpture was funded in part with CDBG money.
“The Jazz Trio”, along with “Dreamland Plaza”, is an integral part of the North 24th Streetscape project brought to fruition with CDBG and street bond funding.
For information on the Omaha projects, contact Norita Matt at 402-444-5177 or Norita.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Nebraska Department of Economic Development Press Release