City leaders hope a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant will help advance plans for an arts and entertainment district at 24th and Lake Streets.
Mayor Jim Suttle will announce the grant award, which was extended by the government agency in September, during a press conference today at Love's Jazz & Arts Center.
The one-year grant, along with $105,000 in matching funds and services from city and community organizations, is expected to help transform the former Carver Savings and Loan building into an artist destination and fund concept studies for a proposed public space on the intersection's northeast corner.
Long a priority of civic leaders, a large-scale makeover of 24th and Lake is seen as a way to boost development and tourism in a part of the city stressed by crime, unemployment and poverty.
The public square and art space, grant documents say, would advance short- and long-term plans to restore the area.
Built in 1900, the city-owned bank building at 2414 Lake St. is projected to become a hub for north Omaha artists and residents and would feature studios, gallery space and a deli operated by a local soul food restaurant.
Roughly $75,000 from the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts will support programming and operations for the Carver project and pay for consultants to visit Omaha to assist with plans for the building's future. An additional $50,000 in NEA money will support four resident artists at the center, community art programs and exhibits.
The City of Omaha would provide a yearlong lease for the facility, and documents say the Bemis would help support the facility for three years before helping turn it into an independent nonprofit.
The rest of the NEA grant will largely fund feasibility and design work for a proposed “festival square” at the intersection. Set to be carried out in two phases, the design work would explore how to place a square at that location, architectural plans and ways to finance construction.
Love's Jazz & Arts Center and the Omaha Economic Development Corp. would provide project management, consulting and other assistance to help develop the public space concept.
That area, city leaders hope, would eventually feature green space, an outdoor market and a performance space.
A public hearing on an ordinance to accept the endowment's grant is scheduled to be held before the City Council today.
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