Mixed Feelings On Crossroads Mall Development

Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) - Omaha's Planning Department held a public meeting to tell people about what businesses may stay and go after the Crossroads Mall is revamped.

Council member Pete Festersen said the Target and the garage attached to it will most likely stay because they own their property. He said there is also talk of the Barnes & Noble remaining.

Everything else between Dodge and Cass streets between 72nd and 76th Street are up for grabs.

Crossroads Mall will be demolished in 2014--leaving businesses until then to clear out. Festersen doesn't anticipate this being a problem considering there are only a few businesses still open in that area.

Hundreds of people went to the meeting Thursday night to be informed on the developments.

"It was just a natural morphing of retail, they need to bring it back, I think, in a different way," David Levin, who owned a business near Crossroads, said. "This is sort of the heart, this is sort of the soul of Omaha. There's still a place for this if it's done right."

The city plans to revive the area and center it on open-air retail, housing and business offices.

Many people hope the changes will make a good economic impact.

Crossroads Mall has been a nearly vacant sight to see at one of Omaha's busiest intersections.

"I just couldn't believe that they let it go just for so many years and then nothing come to it for a while," Kiyonna Singleton said.

Though she lives in west Omaha, she works near Crossroads and said it would be convenient to have somewhere to shop close to her job.

Soon the indoor mall will be demolished and rebuilt possibly into a strip mall--a vision some people don't like.

"People go to the mall because all the stores are in one spot. Now everything is going got strip malls because they don't have to pay as much," Steven Walford said. "I imagine they have to pay as much for space that's why they're going to strip malls because the rent is cheaper."

Walford comes in from Iowa to work in the area. He likes the idea of revamping Crossroads Mall, but not changing it to outdoors. Especially in a city that gets so cold. He said one or two strip malls in Omaha is enough.

"Omaha used to have what 5 malls? They had Center, they had Westroads, they had Westroads, Crossroads, Oakview. And--I think they had one more. But now there's like two?"

Others, like Sam Bloomfield, admit Crossroads slow business has affected nearby businesses also.

"Yeah it must need something. I mean, no body shops there no more so it must be something," he continued. "But I think it just needs some remodeling on the inside. I don't see the point in tearing down."

The Temple Israel near 70th and Cass streets will also vacate.

Campus Crest Communities--a company out of North Carolina wants to build a 200-250 unit student housing complex.

Festersen announced his opposition to this proposal because he feels it will create too much traffic in the proposed rezoning area.

The developers will seek zoning and permit approvals at the Planning Board Meeting--which Festersen is head of -on March 6th.