The conversation is a familiar one, but a new group of advocates is doing the talking.
The group, Modern Streetcar Advocates, launched its web site Nov. 1 as a “home for reliable information about the benefits a streetcar would bring to the city, including a significant boost to economic development and quality of life here.”
Restoration Exchange recently worked on a study that identified 44 small commercial districts along Omaha’s former streetcar routes. Some of them are familiar and thriving today, but others remain untouched and ripe for development. Restoration Exchange Executive Director Kristine Gerber wrote a post for www.modernstreetcaradvocates.org that discusses the history of Omaha’s streetcar system (see photos above and below) and its link to the development of these small commercial nodes.
“The beauty of these small clusters is that they were typically only a block or two in size and fairly small in square footage, which made them affordable for entrepreneurs who wanted to run a solvent business that also supported their families – a bakery, deli, grocery, tavern, flower shop, barbershop – you get the idea,” Gerber writes. “Despite their small size, these clusters created a sense of place, and the people who ran them became part of your circle: the butcher who knew your favorite cut of meat, the pharmacist who knew your kids by name, the bartender who was ready with a joke when you and your neighbor stopped in for a beer after a hard day’s work.”
“To return these commercial districts to their former glory,” she adds, “we need to think small, connect them to multimodel transportation operations and renovate/repurpose their existing structure for present-day use.”
Click here to read the entire post.
If you’d like to participate in the new streetcar conversation, former City of Omaha Planning Director Steve Jensen and Derek Miller, the city’s long range and mobility planning manager, will discuss the benefits of a modern streetcar as well as the opportunity costs of not having one Tuesday, Nov. 14, at The Pella at Blackstone, 303 S. 41st St. The social hour begins at 4:00pm, and the presentation starts at 5:15pm. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information about Modern Streetcar Advocates, visit www.modernstreetcaradvocates.org.