South O Eagles club to see new chapter as Urban Indian Health center
February 6, 2021 as seen on Omaha.com
A nearly $9 million makeover is poised to turn a former and vacant South Omaha Eagles club into new headquarters for the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition.
The brick structure spanning 26,000 square feet at 2226 N St. is to operate, in part, as a 20-bed residential facility where people struggling with behavioral health disorders can get treatment.
It will house other services as well, said health coalition CEO Donna Polk, including an elders program called Tired Moccasins and a prevention program for youth.
There will be a small outpatient health clinic, computer technology, other training and offices; and a hall that can host community events for up to 200 people.
Outside, a garden, fire pit and sweat lodge are proposed.
“We want to be a part of the community,” said Polk. “We’re very proud to be in a position where we can have a building and services that acknowledge the existence and tradition of native people.”
Founded in 1986, the coalition aims to lift the urban American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Certain funding sources require certain services to be reserved for those groups.
When the coalition moves — as early as next spring — it will double the space of its existing base at 2240 Landon Court. It also will be a growing presence in that South Omaha neighborhood.
The coalition already owns the newly constructed 44-unit Eagle Heights affordable housing structure that opened last year on the northwest corner of 23rd and N Streets — across the street from the headquarters project site.
Built with help from low income housing tax credits and developer Arch Icon, the $7.8 million apartments are open to any income-qualifying applicant. Polk said the apartment dwellers soon will be within steps of participating in technology workshops, the health clinic or other programs at the new headquarters.
The coalition has asked the City of Omaha for a special use permit allowing a group living facility. The Planning Department is in favor, and the Planning Board recommended approval last Wednesday. The request now goes to a City Council vote.
Jorge Sotolongo, a Planning Board member who lives in South Omaha, said the project would improve a blighted property built in 1955 on a key intersection near Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and a block from the South 24th Street commercial corridor.
“It fits with South Omaha's culture of service,” he said, and supports indigenous populations.
According to documents submitted to the city, 18 staff members would be working on a typical weekday.
The Woodbine, Iowa-based Arch Icon currently owns the 2226 N St. property and will serve as general contractor, said spokesman Darin Smith. He said that once the headquarters project is complete, Arch Icon will take possession of the coalition's former base, which is near Arch Icon's trendy Flats on Howard neighborhood redevelopment initiative, and will work to redevelop that site.
Polk said the health coalition is close to reaching the $8.9 million fund-raising goal.
She said it's been a long road, and the coalition she's led since 1991 has seen several different homes. But the soon-to-be rehabbed property with roots as a Fraternal Order of Eagles club seemed right. In the Native American culture, eagles are viewed as close to the Creator; revered symbols of strength, wisdom and courage.
“I saw that as a sign,” said Polk.