‘Transformational' $290 million plan calls for dramatic changes to Gene Leahy Mall and Omaha riverfront
Omaha’s movers and shakers, with more than half the funds pledged privately, are forging ahead with a $290 million proposal to breathe new life into the city’s downtown riverfront.
A conceptual master plan calls for adding spacious lawns for events, a Farnam Street walking promenade that stretches past Eighth Street to the river, a ribbon-shaped rink for ice skating and rollerblading, a water plaza where kids can play and splash, and a dog park.
That would be accomplished by raising most of Gene Leahy Mall to street level and downsizing existing water features to create an open, continuous park leading all the way to the Missouri River.
The ambitious plan would add dozens of new amenities and activities to a roughly 90-acre area along the mall and river, from the marina near the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge south to The Breakers apartment complex at Leavenworth Street.
The mall’s popular slides will remain, and a third slide is planned.
Ken Stinson and Mogens Bay, two Omaha businessmen and Heritage Services board members spearheading the effort, said they want to reconnect people to the river and transform the area into a vibrant and iconic destination that’s more inviting.
“We’ve all worked on lots of projects in Omaha,” Stinson told The World-Herald, “but this is one of the more significant opportunities to do something that, I think, is a game changer in the community.”