Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition plans to build new HQ, housing in South Omaha
Oct, 20 2017 by Christopher Burbach / World-Herald staff writer
An unusual partnership has emerged between the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition and real estate developers who rehabilitated the coalition’s old downtown neighborhood into millennial-friendly housing.
The nonprofit coalition provides substance abuse treatment and other services at its current headquarters, in the middle of Arch Icon Development’s trendy new Flats on Howard apartments and town houses.
Now, Arch Icon Development and the nonprofit group propose to create a new campus for the coalition, at 23rd and N Streets in South Omaha. That’s the former home of the South Omaha Eagles Club.
Their proposal has two parts. They would erect a building with 44 apartments on parking lots northwest of 23rd and N. And they would renovate the vacant club and its banquet hall, turning it into space for social services including residential addiction treatment, plus offices and cultural events.
The planning is in its very early stages. The complicated financing for the apartments, expected to cost about $7.8 million to build, would involve a number of sources, including low-income housing tax credits. The renovation of the Eagles Club would require donations, and fundraising has yet to begin.
Nothing would likely be built before 2019, said Darin Smith, an Arch Icon principal.
Given all that, the group has talked with some neighbors but otherwise hasn’t “said a lot about it” yet, said Donna Polk-Primm, CEO of Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition.
It’s becoming public now because they’re applying for tax-increment financing for the apartments, called Eagle Heights.
The Omaha City Planning Board voted last week to recommend that the City Council approve the Eagle Heights redevelopment plan. That would allow up to $310,000 in tax-increment financing, or TIF. The financing mechanism allows developers to use a portion of a project’s future property taxes to pay for upfront costs.
The redevelopment plan and TIF proposal will probably go before the City Council in a few weeks.
The apartment ownership would eventually transfer to the coalition, but despite its nonprofit status, it would pay taxes on the apartments under the proposal before the city.
There would be a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. They would rent for an estimated $375 a month for a studio to $750 a month for a three-bedroom unit.
Polk-Primm said the group is planning to move to the South Omaha site so it can expand its services and help more people.
She said the coalition’s current building is too small even for the current services offered there. It has 12,000 square feet, according to county property records. The Eagles Club building has 26,000 square feet.
“It would double our space to help us serve our community better,” Polk-Primm said.
The coalition primarily serves urban American Indians and the Alaska Native populations, and some services are reserved for those groups because of funding sources. But the apartments would be open to any qualifying applicants, and many services are available to everyone, according to documents filed with the City Planning Board.
Polk-Primm said the proposed apartments would allow for more transitional housing for the coalition’s clients. The club building also has space for community meetings, memorial dinners and other cultural events.
She said the coalition has been hoping to expand for several years. It seriously looked into moving seven years ago, hiring a consultant and conducting focus groups, but it didn’t work out that time.
Polk-Primm said real estate developer Todd Heistand, whose daughter Mindy Crook is a principal in Arch Icon, approached her more recently and asked how they could help the coalition.
Polk-Primm said she welcomed the help. She said Arch Icon has been a good neighbor, and Heistand “has developed half of Omaha.”
Crook said the coalition needs to expand and wants more housing, but is landlocked.
“This is what we do,” she said. “We do housing. We do development.”
Crook said she and Polk-Primm came across the Eagles Club property listing on the Internet practically on the same day.
When Crook saw the listing, she quickly made an appointment to see the property. About 9 p.m. the next day, she received an email from Polk-Primm about the Eagles Club, saying, “we should look at this.”
“We kind of thought it was a cool moment, one of those this-was-meant-to-be cool things.”
To Polk-Primm, it was symbolic that it is the former Eagles Club, named for an animal sacred to Native Americans.
“We are planning to move to 2226 N Street,” Polk-Primm said. “We’re very excited about it.”
She said the only obstacle is raising money for the renovations.
“We’re very hopeful,” Polk-Primm said. “I’m very optimistic.”