Six years after a developer bought the downtown Omaha corner of 13th and Jones Streets, plans are in motion for a five-story apartment building with Old Market character to rise there.
Called Jones13, the $12.8 million brick-base, big-window project will be constructed on the site of a former car wash and a neighboring storage facility.
One hundred apartments with monthly rents ranging from $750 to $1,300 and sizes ranging from studio to two-bedroom will be built around a courtyard to be constructed atop the parking garage.
“More good properties bring more residents and more life to downtown,” said Dominic Vaccaro, vice president of America First Real Estate, the development company whose multiple downtown apartment buildings include the Orpheum Tower and Skinner Macaroni.
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America First is a subsidiary of Burlington Capital Group, headed by Lisa Roskens, daughter of Omaha businessman and philanthropist Michael Yanney. Among America First's other downtown and midtown-area projects are the renovated Austin apartments at 38th and Davenport Streets and the soon-to-be completed Victory Apartments at Eighth and Dorcas Streets.
While America First's plan for the 13th and Jones Streets corner apartments has been brewing for a few years, it was expanded and solidified when the storage facility at 1315 Jones became available. That sale is set to close this month, said Vaccaro, and Jones13 is to be ready for dwellers by summer of 2014.
City Planning Board Chairwoman Anna Nubel said the additional space alleviated concern about potential crowding. City Planner Bridget Hadley said the overall project fits with the city's goal of raising the count of downtown residents.
From the perspective of America First, Jones13 wraps up a trifecta of sorts.
In each of three different downtown redevelopment efforts, America First had enough land to create a double feature at each site.
At 15th and Leavenworth Streets, America First renovated the L15 Lofts in 2011 and also acquired the nearby Safeway Cab building. The cab structure was demolished and the developer the following year built and opened the new L14 Flats at 14th and Leavenworth Streets.
At 22nd and Davenport Streets, America First, in partnership with Tetrad Development, bought the existing Capitol Hill apartments and, in 2011, constructed the new Capitol Rows apartments on nearby lots that came with the acquisition.
The car wash at 1301 Jones St. was acquired in 2007 when America First bought the 74-unit Skinner Macaroni apartments at 13th and Jackson Streets.
America First ran the car wash before it closed a few years ago. Once L14 was completed, Vaccaro said, the company turned its attention to the Jones13 project.
Buying the storage facility land expanded the project site to slightly more than a half-acre.
“It was a nice opportunity to improve the entire block,” Vaccaro said.
Earlier plans for 72 units grew to 100. Parking stalls grew to the current 57 enclosed spaces.
Amenities include a fitness center with a street view; and a courtyard with an outdoor kitchen, fire pit and pergola, water feature and planters.
“We like the scale of a larger property,” Vaccaro said. “It improves the aesthetics of our project and it improves the overall street experience around Jones.”
Todd Moeller of Holland Basham Architects, which is working on the project with Darland Construction, said that the building design will be modern but also blend in with the existing Old Market fabric. That includes a brick base, metal panel siding, large windows and high ceilings.
Vaccaro expects the new apartments, which are near the new Hyatt Place hotel under construction, to make a financial as well as aesthetic impact.
Paperwork submitted to the city said that based on a projected household income of $40,000, $60 million could be reinvested over the next 15 years into goods and services in the downtown area.
The Planning Board last week gave a green light to the plan, as well as to a $1.47 million tax increment financing request that helps offset the developer's costs for such things as public improvements.
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