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2007.01.22 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

UNO Students Create Building/Land Use Database for Benson-Ames Alliance

Omaha – Five University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) graduate students have given the Benson-Ames Alliance a head start on revitalizing the region.

The group, all pursuing master's degrees in urban studies at UNO, has created a database of building and land use in the alliance area. "It's an incredibly valuable tool to have in our pockets as we begin marketing the alliance for future development and redevelopment projects," said Clarence Nichols, chair of the Benson-Ames Alliance Steering Committee.

The Benson-Ames Alliance was created in the fall of 2005 to plan for and implement the revitalization of the Benson-Ames area. Covering a portion of north central Omaha roughly six miles in area, it contains more than 800 businesses – including schools, civic and religious organizations – and 15,542 households.

The five students – Annette Artherton, Kara Lafferty, Brandi O'Malley, Romaro Nelson and Jamise Williams – completed the project as part of the Community Organizing and Development class taught by Robert Blair, director of the Urban Studies Program and associate professor of public administration at UNO.

The team reviewed five case study areas – 50th and Ames, 60th and Ames, Saddle Creek and Northwest Radial Highway, Downtown Benson, and 72nd and Military. Each area was outlined in the Benson-Ames Alliance plan, a comprehensive revitalization document that received unanimous approval from the Omaha City Council in November 2006. The plan encourages mixed-use centers that blend retail, residential and office elements to achieve balanced and truly livable neighborhoods.

The database contains a full inventory of all buildings, personal and public, as well as lots in the Benson-Ames Alliance area. It also contains a section that identifies unoccupied and for sale structures as well as vacant lots in the five case study areas.

In addition to creating the database, the student group prepared recommendations on potential public financing options to encourage investment in each of the case study areas.

The Benson-Ames Alliance receives support services from Omaha by Design, the Neighborhood Center for Greater Omaha and the City of Omaha. Faculty, staff and graduate students from UNO's Urban Studies Program and Center for Public Affairs Research provide research support.

For more information about the Urban Studies Program at UNO, contact Blair at (402) 554-3865 or rblair@mail.unomaha.edu.

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