Ambitious Project Seeks to Provide Housing, Education and Wellness Opportunities 5/21/18 05/21/18 10:28:49 AM
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Ambitious Project Seeks to Provide Housing,
Education and Wellness Opportunities
By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
Cydney Franklin, senior project manager, Seventy-Five North, delivered a TED Talk at the CRE Summit on April 6.
During her 45 minutes, she talked about the developments that were taking place on the 40-acre “footprint” in the Highland neighborhood. The goal of the non-profit is three-fold: to “break the cycle of poverty and community deterioration by facilitating the creation of a healthy, sustainable, mixed-income community complete with high-quality housing; [to be] a thriving space for education; and to offer health and wellness to the community.”
A variety of educational opportunities are already being offered in the 65,000-square-foot Accelerator building, including partnerships with Creighton University, and Metropolitan Community College.
Located on the first floor, Creighton has space that encompasses 4,000-square-feet of flexible learning space, which includes a classroom, conference room and individual meeting rooms.
Located on the third floor, Metropolitan Express has more than 9,000 square feet, where their programming includes adult education, youth programming, certification and assessment, continuing education, Workforce Training Academy, career services and 180 Re-entry Assistance Program.
Other opportunities in the Accelerator are the Highlander Code Camp, a seven-week-long summer camp for 15 high school students living in or attending school in North Omaha; and the AIM Interface School, which is a free web development program for 18 to 24-year-olds. The long-term objective of Seventy-Five North is to invest in curriculum, literacy, math, science and reading.
“This summer, we will have a small-scale food court,” she said. “We’ve been having conversations for months about what other business – small, micro-business – might move in. We still have a small retail space available. (Hardy Coffee, which is owned by Autumn Pruitt, a North Omaha native, is already open for business.)
“What is the building missing? Who in Omaha offers cool programs and can pay their rent on time? We are still trying to figure that out. The Accelerator was never intended to be retail heavy, but we want to support local business and entrepreneurship. We are interested in bar-raising, life-altering retailers. Maybe a grocery store, gym or restaurant that can come in and find success.”
Near the Accelerator, there exist 100 units of mixed-income housing, which, Franklin said, is “just about leased. We have 300 people living there.” Offerings include row houses, townhouses, a courtyard and walk-up style apartment homes in one, two and three-bedroom styles. All units have granite countertops, high-speed internet, secure off-street parking, a fitness center and stainless steel, Energy Star appliances. And soon there will be a playground, swimming pool and large green space nearby for outdoor entertainment. This summer, those in the area can take advantage of Movie Nights, starting at 6 p.m., July 12, 18, 26 and August 2, at 31st and Patrick.
In the spring of 2019, Whispering Roots will begin local programming and open for tours of their new headquarters, where they will have a greenhouse spanning 6,000 square feet; an aquaculture facility of 4,500 square feet; and 3,200 square feet of classrooms, offices and a construction lab.
They will have fresh, nutritious food, such as salad greens, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries available to those living in the area. Classes will be offered on a variety of subjects, including nutrition and healthy cooking, and aquaculture/aquaponics.
An award-winning, 501(c)3 organization, Whispering Roots does more than just grow food. It educates students and the public in “next generation” farming techniques and provides “hands on” learning and growing activities.
Residents won’t have to wait until late 2018 for fresh produce. Every Thursday in June, the Highlander will have its Marketplace, where customers can find local goods, entertainment and food. On June 12 and 14, there will be hour-long talks, from noon to 1 p.m., about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet and simple ways to incorporate more nutrient-dense plant foods into one’s diet.
The Seventy-Five North project has been nearly a decade in the making. It began with the 2009 demolition of Pleasantview Homes, a 300-unit public housing project located on 23 acres of land, which is located less than a mile from downtown Omaha. (The name refers to U.S. 75 North that runs adjacent to it.)
By 2012, Seventy-Five North owned 36 acres of contiguous land and an additional 55 lots surrounding the former Pleasantview site. Led by Othello Meadows, a North Omaha native and lawyer, Seventy-Five North is “raising the standards” in many ways, from the materials being used for its housing to how it ‘fills’ its spaces,” Franklin said. “We are always thinking about how we want to be perceived and branded; what will happen to our spaces.”
The Highlander neighborhood is three blocks from U.S. 75 North/North Freeway, and one mile north of downtown Omaha. There is easy access to Midtown Crossing, Creighton University, Charles Drew Health Center and more.
For more information about Seventy-Five North, which is at 2112 N. 30th St., go to highlanderomaha.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board members include Thomas Warren, chief executive officer of the Urban League of Nebraska; Dana Bradford, executive chairman of Waitt Brands; Kristin Williams, director of community initiatives, The Sherwood Foundation; Marty Shukert, principal RDG Planning and Design; Susan Buffett, chair of The Sherwood Foundation, and Kenneth Johnson, retired, City of Omaha planning.
Cydney Franklin is the daughter of Omaha assistant U.S. attorney Fred Franklin.
In case you are wondering, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity, with subtitles in 100+ languages. This is the first of three TED Talks given at the CRE (Commercial Real Estate) Summit. The second talk will be covered in a future issue.
Seventy Five North to Hold
First Highlander Marketplace
Beginning in June, the Highlander neighborhood will host an event for shopping, relaxation and entertainment. The first event of its kind in the neighborhood – Highlander Marketplace, an outdoor neighborhood market – will be held every Thursday beginning June 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of The Accelerator, 2112 N. 30th Street. The event is being organized by Seventy-Five North Revitalization Corp., a non-profit working towards revitalizing the Highlander community.
The Highlander Marketplace will host a variety of events and activities that include shopping from over 20 vendors, food trucks and live entertainment. Vendors at the marketplace will serve baked goods, healthy dog treats, hair care products, teas and more. Through this initiative, Seventy Five North will support entrepreneurship by exposing local vendors to new customers while continuing to build on the sense of community beginning to re-emerge in Highlander.
The dates of Highlander Marketplace are June 7, June 14, June 21 and June 28 and will run from 5 to 7 p.m.