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Too much parking? Owners of Highline plan new $16.7M structure converting extra spaces into apartments



By Cindy Gonzalez / World-Herald staff writer

It’s a predicament that apartments in growing downtowns don’t face often: too much parking space.

But when NuStyle Development converted a 15-story office building at 22nd and Dodge Streets into the Highline, it inherited way more stalls than apartment dwellers needed.

There were surface spaces, covered spaces, heated spaces, alley spaces — created for the 2,000 or so people that in the day used to work at or visit the former Northern Natural Gas headquarters.

“It’s in a big slew of parking lots,” said Greg Rothermel, development director at NuStyle.

Now NuStyle wants to construct 114 more apartments and two commercial bays on excess lots.

Todd Heistand, who along with his wife, Mary, owns NuStyle, estimates that 330 people live in the existing 194 Highline apartments, completed about two years ago. He says that half the existing 600 or so stalls are vacant at any given time.

Under NuStyle’s plan, a new U-shaped addition would be constructed, with four stories and an outdoor swimming pool, a rarity for apartments in the downtown/midtown Omaha area.

The $16.7 million structure, at 2100 Douglas St., would be southeast of its taller Highline counterpart. They’d be considered parts of the same complex, which is across Dodge Street from the Joslyn Art Museum and Central High School.

NuStyle has asked the city to approve $2.6 million in tax-increment financing for the latest phase, saying it would not be economically feasible without the public assistance. The TIF request says the project furthers the city’s master plan goals by rehabilitating vacant lots into market-rate apartments and allowing more residents to live in the city’s core.

Two full-time apartment management positions would be created.

Heistand said the infusion of apartments also helps to fulfill a goal of the Joslyn Neighborhood housing study, which noted a need for higher residential density in the area.

The new housing mostly would be one-bedroom units, some two-bedroom and one three-bedroom apartment, with rents ranging from $915 to $1,480. First-floor residences would have walk-out patios, and upper units would have balconies. The 2,000 square feet of commercial space would be on the ground level along Douglas Street.

“That will bring a little street vibrancy to the neighborhood,” said Martin Kluck of Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture, which designed the structure.

Tenants in the complex would have access to amenities in both buildings. The original Highline has a fitness room, half-size basketball court, rooftop deck with gas grills and an outdoor theater.

The newer one is to include indoor bicycle parking and feature the exterior courtyard and pool.

Completion is scheduled for spring 2016. Even with the new units, Heistand said, the complex should have about 70 extra parking stalls for visitors.

Brick on the new building will match the existing Highline, and Kluck said that Douglas Street passers-by should find the courtyard and facade more appealing than what is there today.

“It’ll be, ‘Wow, it’s nice there’s not a parking lot there anymore,’ ” Kluck said. “We’re better utilizing the parking that is there and helping to regrow the urban fabric of Omaha.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1224,