Little Bohemia takes first step toward creation of a Business Improvement District

Back in 2017, a group of realtors announced a new vision for south 13th street, calling the re-birth of sorts “Little Bohemia”. Since then, the stretch just south of downtown has seen plenty of growth. From coffee shops and salons to boutiques, bars and even a bank, Little Bohemia has had an influx of new businesses over the past several years. “What’s so great about this community is everyone’s super involved,” said Louis Smith with Dundee Bank.Smith is president of the business association. Now, he and others in the area are working to organize an official Business Improvement District, or BID. “I think it’s part of making a Little Bohemia a little bit more legitimate in the eyes of the city,” Smith said. BIDs mean businesses in a certain area have to pay a fee, used for projects within the given neighborhood. Smith said they don’t anticipate residents or nonprofits having to pay anything.And there’s one issue that’s top of mind. “So we see a lot of traffic down here. Unfortunately, that results in some unsafe conditions,” Smith said. KETV Newswatch 7 has reported on traffic concerns in the neighborhood. In 2018, Omaha hired a firm to conduct a walkability study. Once complete, the city said there’s a lot of demand for vehicle traffic running between I-80 and downtown. Smith believes it’s time for another look, and paying for a new traffic study is something they’re interested in using BID funds for. “You know, this neighborhood has changed a lot since 2017. Imagine looking at Blackstone in 2017 and comparing it to Blackstone today,” Smith said. “We’re not at that level yet, but eventually we hope to be at that level.” People like Beercade 2 general manager Ash Prehiem agrees. “We obviously would love traffic to be a little better,” he said. Preheim would also like to see more art and community events through the BID.He said the pandemic presented challenges for them, like finding the staff to keep business going from day to day. Preheim thinks a dedicated group, working on collective issues could move things forward. “I feel like it would give us a voice as a whole, as a neighborhood,” he said. Smith said they haven’t seen even minor changes, like curb bumpouts, since that study several years back. They’re interested in things like increased parking, a center median or other traffic slowing measures. He’s hopeful the BID could be another big step toward change.”That traffic study and safety of the neighborhood is, I would say item number one that we need to address, and hope to address with the BID,” he said.Omaha’s city council approved creation of a BID board this week.Smith said the next step is for the board to talk to other businesses and residents to get feedback before officially forming a Little Bohemia BID.

Back in 2017, a group of realtors announced a new vision for south 13th street, calling the re-birth of sorts “Little Bohemia”.

Since then, the stretch just south of downtown has seen plenty of growth.

From coffee shops and salons to boutiques, bars and even a bank, Little Bohemia has had an influx of new businesses over the past several years.

“What’s so great about this community is everyone’s super involved,” said Louis Smith with Dundee Bank.

Smith is president of the business association. Now, he and others in the area are working to organize an official Business Improvement District, or BID.

“I think it’s part of making a Little Bohemia a little bit more legitimate in the eyes of the city,” Smith said.

BIDs mean businesses in a certain area have to pay a fee, used for projects within the given neighborhood.

Smith said they don’t anticipate residents or nonprofits having to pay anything.

And there’s one issue that’s top of mind.

“So we see a lot of traffic down here. Unfortunately, that results in some unsafe conditions,” Smith said.

KETV Newswatch 7 has reported on traffic concerns in the neighborhood.

In 2018, Omaha hired a firm to conduct a walkability study. Once complete, the city said there’s a lot of demand for vehicle traffic running between I-80 and downtown.

Smith believes it’s time for another look, and paying for a new traffic study is something they’re interested in using BID funds for.

“You know, this neighborhood has changed a lot since 2017. Imagine looking at Blackstone in 2017 and comparing it to Blackstone today,” Smith said. “We’re not at that level yet, but eventually we hope to be at that level.”

People like Beercade 2 general manager Ash Prehiem agrees.

“We obviously would love traffic to be a little better,” he said.

Preheim would also like to see more art and community events through the BID.

He said the pandemic presented challenges for them, like finding the staff to keep business going from day to day.

Preheim thinks a dedicated group, working on collective issues could move things forward.

“I feel like it would give us a voice as a whole, as a neighborhood,” he said.

Smith said they haven’t seen even minor changes, like curb bumpouts, since that study several years back. They’re interested in things like increased parking, a center median or other traffic slowing measures.

He’s hopeful the BID could be another big step toward change.

“That traffic study and safety of the neighborhood is, I would say item number one that we need to address, and hope to address with the BID,” he said.

Omaha’s city council approved creation of a BID board this week.

Smith said the next step is for the board to talk to other businesses and residents to get feedback before officially forming a Little Bohemia BID.

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