On November 13th Douglas County District Judge Peter Batallion upheld the temporary retraining order that prevents the county from taking 420 S. 18th St. from owner Bob Perrin for the purpose of demolishing it to make way for a Juvenile Justice Center and Courthouse expansion. Perrin filed the suit after the Douglas County Commission approved the use of eminent domain. The restraining order will stay in place until mid-January when another ruling is expected.
This is good news for Perrin and supporters who wish the building to stay standing and be rehabbed into a contributing part of the Flatiron Neighborhood, but by no means ensures a positive outcome.
County Commissioners Jim Cavanaugh and Mike Boyle have been the only members on the seven-member County Commission Board to oppose the proposed project. Cavanaugh sites concerns about the cost of the project, lack of transparency, and use of public money by a private entity often in his presentations for alternate building schemes.
Several Omaha World-Herald articles have come out in the last few days, the first suggesting the county may again be looking at the current MUD headquarters building and site. That building is also historic, but the county seems willing to preserve or incorporate it in some way if eminent domain proceedings prevent the use of the 18th and Howard site. The second article details a tense county board meeting about the projected costs of the downtown proposed plan and the alternate proposed plan.
We encourage everyone to contact the County Commissioners to voice their opinion about more historic demolition in our downtown. Without pressure from the community the project will likely go ahead, and another piece of our history will be lost.