City Announces Plans for Temporary Branch of Downtown Omaha Library | Politics and government

City officials on Friday announced plans to open a temporary library in downtown Omaha that will allow for the demolition of the W. Dale Clark Library months before the new downtown branch opens. town.

The plan would see the city pay $27,000 to lease space at 1410 Howard St. for six months, under a deal set to be presented to the Omaha City Council on Tuesday. A separate deal would pay an architecture and engineering firm $10,000 to design the temporary site.

According to the plan released by the mayor’s office on Friday, the Howard Street location would open Sept. 1 and maintain the same hours as the existing downtown library, the W. Dale Clark, which will close in late August.

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The temporary site would allow the city to maintain library services between the closure of the W. Dale Clark — which will be demolished to make way for the new Mutual of Omaha headquarters — and the opening of the new center library branch -town at 1401 Jones St.

An official from the mayor’s office previously said he hoped to have the Jones Street site up and running by January 1, 2023. However, it is now on track to open March 1.

According to the mayor’s office, additional time is needed to complete structural upgrades to the building to support library materials and display functionality. The cost of the improvements will be paid by White Lotus Group, owner of the building.

The temporary Howard Street location will remain open until the Jones Street branch opens.

Visitors to the temporary location will be able to check out and return materials and access computer and printing services, but meeting rooms and programming will not be available during the transition period, according to the mayor’s office.

The Howard Street location will be staffed by current library staff. The rental cost of $4,500 per month will be paid from the city’s general fund, according to a memo, and will not affect the library’s operating budget. The lease gives the city access to 2,570 square feet of space.

The mayor’s office noted that two subway lines offer bus service to the intersection of 14th and Howard streets, where the temporary library will be located. Five other routes serve areas within two blocks of the location, and there is metered parking in the area.

“The Howard Street location is convenient and accessible and allows us to continue service through this transition,” Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement.

Demolition of the W. Dale Clark, which sits just west of the newly renovated Gene Leahy Mall, is scheduled to begin Oct. 1. The library will close in late August to begin the moving process, according to the mayor’s office.

Several evaluations over the past few years have recommended replacing the W. Dale Clark. A 2017 master plan described the facility as “dated, inefficient and underutilized”.

In November, Stothert announced plans to move downtown library services to the Jones Street building. Administrative offices and central distribution currently housed in the W. Dale Clark would move to a vacant Shopko store at 84th and Frederick Streets.

Under lease agreements approved by City Council in February, the Jones Street property will be leased for 10 years at $465,000 a year, while the 10-year lease for the old Shopko is $405,000 a year. . Both buildings require renovations.

In January, Stothert and Mutual of Omaha announced plans that will result in a new skyscraper on the site of the W. Dale Clark. The plan involves a land swap that will give Mutual the library site, valued at about $7.8 million, while the city will receive vacant land at 14th and Dodge Streets, valued at about $6 million.

In June, the city council agreed to pay Cox Contracting Co. $678,000 to demolish the W. Dale Clark. Cox’s bid was the lowest of seven the city received.

In addition to the lease for the Howard Street space, the city council will consider a deal on Tuesday that would pay local firm HDR Architecture Inc. $10,000 to design the temporary library. Earlier this year, the city council agreed to pay HDR $494,614 to design needed improvements to the Jones Street location and the old Shopko.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 2 p.m. in the legislative chambers at 1819 Farnam St.

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