Rose Center for Public Leadership Working with Mayor Stothert on Encouraging Development in Omaha’s North Downtown Area

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OMAHA, NE – February 9, 2015 – The Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership, jointly operated by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the National League of Cities (NLC), is working this week with Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and several local officials representing the city to explore additional development in Omaha’s North Downtown area. The panel of experts from around the nation assembled by the center this week will be helping the city identify the obstacles, opportunities and steps needed to encourage development of the area and its varied sports, entertainment, visitor, residential, education, arts, trades, and industrial uses.

The Rose Center’s mission is to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making by providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources to foster creative, efficient, practical, and sustainable land use policies. Each year, the center’s Daniel Rose Fellowship program invites the mayors of four large U.S. central cities to select a team with land use decision-making authority to receive technical assistance on a local land use challenge. This year’s fellowship class is from the cities of Boston, Omaha, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Mayor Stothert’s team includes Cassie Seagren, deputy chief of staff for economic development; Bob Stubbe, director of the public works department; and James Thele, director of the planning department, with assistance from local planning consultant Steve Jensen. In addition to technical assistance on their city’s land use challenge, the fellowship program provides participants with leadership training and professional development opportunities from ULI’s and NLC’s respective programming and networks of private- and public-sector members.

The land use challenge for the city of Omaha, as identified by Mayor Stothert and her team, is to leverage existing development in the 450-acre study area and its considerable assets-including proximity to Eppley Airfield and Creighton University, convenient interstate access, and major public event venues-to attract new development that positions the area as a vibrant destination and could catalyze greater investment that creates much-needed jobs for those living in nearby neighborhoods.

The panel, co-chaired by Omaha’s Rose Fellowship faculty advisers-Laura Aldrete, a planning, transportation and redevelopment consultant with Parsons Brinckerhoff in Denver; and Indianapolis-based real estate developer/consultant M.D. “Mike” Higbee-will meet with Mayor Stothert and her team to tour the site and meet with community and civic leaders and other stakeholders. Drawing upon their professional expertise and experiences, the panelists will apply the information gathered from the site tour and stakeholder meetings and prepare recommendations for next steps the city can take to move forward with the plan. All of Omaha’s expenses to participate in the program-including the panel’s visit-are underwritten by the Rose Center to ensure objectivity during the process.

According to Rose Center Executive Director Jess Zimbabwe, this work represents an excellent opportunity to enhance an existing, underinvested area that currently has developable land available, and which is zoned to accommodate a variety of land uses. “We are very excited to work with Mayor Stothert and her team to help make the North Downtown expansion proposal become a reality,” Zimbabwe said. “The goal is to leverage the area’s human capital, facilities and existing activities to attract and nurture new businesses that will provide employment opportunities within a reinvigorated mixed-use urban neighborhood.”

“Local officials play a critical role in land use decision-making, and we are excited to see the opportunities and outcomes in the North Downtown area resulting from the Rose Center’s partnership with the City of Omaha,” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “The National League of Cities is proud to support the Rose Center’s mission to work with elected leaders and staff to promote the best land use policies in urban areas, which results in building better communities for our residents.”

“We are honored to be selected by the Rose Center for this intensive, on-site review of north downtown,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “This area has great potential for business, entertainment and residential development. The expertise provided by the Rose Center panel will help identify opportunities.”

The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose. The purpose of the fellowship program is to provide city leaders with the insights, peer-to-peer learning, and analysis needed to successfully improve their cities. The fellowship’s program of work includes a study tour of another U.S. or foreign city, working retreats at ULI’s and NLC’s national conferences, and study visits to each of the four fellowship cities. The cities of Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Hartford, Connecticut; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Minneapolis; Nashville; Oakland, California; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; Providence, Rhode Island; Sacramento, California; Tacoma, Washington and Tampa, Florida have participated in the first five years of the fellowship program.

About the Rose Center for Public Leadership
Founded in 2008 with a major gift from real estate developer Daniel Rose, the Rose Center provides public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making. The yearlong Daniel Rose Fellowship program provides the mayors of four large U.S. cities with ULI assistance on a local land use development challenge. Beginning in 2014, the Rose Center operates as a partnership between the Urban Land Institute and the National League of Cities.

About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 33,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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