Century-Old Landmark Keeps Historic Status...For Now

By: Melina Matthes

OMAHA (kptm) - The landmark status for the Clarinda-Page apartments will remainthat is for now.

Today the Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission voted to keep the status.

However it's just the beginning, the Planning Commission and the City Council still have to decide its fate.

The Clarinda-Page was declared a landmark in 1981; however those that want to see these buildings demolished said they're deteriorating and should be torn down. Those in favor of keeping the landmark status said it's a piece of history that future generations could appreciate.

"There's nothing like it left in Omaha," historian and author, Joni Fogarty said.

"The Clarinda-Page is an Omaha landmark; it's something that the city wanted to preserve for future generations. We believe that the status cannot be revoked just because somebody wants it to be revoked," Joe Saniuk said.

But Lou Anne Baker is one who wants it revoked. She's been living in the Clarinda for three years. "It's charming, but charm can only last so long just like age."

Since college she dreamed of living in the building. "These used to be luxury apartments back in the day and the beautiful black and white images you just loved them, they're just gorgeous. Well it takes a picture well, but you know it's not a model place to live."

She found out the hard way that it wasn't as glamorous as she had once imagined. She says water leaks from the ceiling, the plumbing and electric are outdated, and there are numerous code violations. "If they want to save this building or if they want to step out and try to prove that it's worth saving that they come and do this themselves, they can come take care of the maintenance, they can come fix everything," Baker said.

"Personally I'm not going to do that. At the first meeting the structural engineer testified that structurally that was a sound building," Fogarty said.

"Looks are deceiving and you can't save everything. I'm sad very sad about itI'm sorry. I'm fine, it's just that again, not until you live here or know what you're getting into do you really find out," Baker said with tears in her eyes.

The majority of people in the meeting don't want to see these buildings demolished. They know they're not perfect, they know they need work, they're fine with them being renovate; however the final say will be up to the city council.

The real estate company buying buildings and land on both sides of Farnam wants to continue developing midtown crossing. However midtown crossing wants to stay out of the debate. A representative with the shopping center said they will not comment about the battle until after the city council votes.

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