Ashton and Millwork Commons

Millwork Commons pushes north downtown redevelopment to next level urbanity.

With renovations progressing on the historic Ashton Building, the people behind Millwork Commons are moving ahead with planning the rest of the $300 million redevelopment aimed at blending newly urbane Omaha with its north downtown neighborhood’s industrial history.

Up next: apartments. In the future: offices, retail, town houses, probably a hotel, a park and an entertainment area with restaurants and a musical performance space.

It should add up to a neighborhood designed and built to special city standards crafted to allow redevelopment and old-neighborhood preservation to coexist.

“It’s a unique development, unlike any other in the area, and we’re excited to get going on kind of the overall plan,” Kendra Ringenberg, an attorney for the developer, told the Omaha Planning Board on Wednesday.

The home-grown tech company Flywheel will move into the first 1½ stories of the Ashton, a former furniture warehouse at 1218 Nicholas St., near the Hot Shops Art Center. That should happen by summer 2020, said Keith Weeces, director of Black Dog Management, which is led by investor Paul Smith.

The next thing to happen will probably be the construction of new apartments adjacent to the Ashton. Black Dog is in talks with a local developer about building those, the first of a variety of housing types they hope to create in new and renovated buildings in the area.

The developers are seeking a rezoning of the 42-acre area that will make it a Neighborhood Conservation/Enhancement (NCE) district. The Planning Board voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that the City Council approve that rezoning along with Millworks Commons’ preliminary plat, which is a broad outline of how a development will shape up.

That creates a special set of zoning regulations that are meant to preserve and protect unique areas of Omaha and allow some flexibility in city zoning regulations and design standards to allow redevelopment to thrive.

Such districts have been created in other parts of Omaha, such as downtown Dundee, historic Vinton Street in South Omaha and a stretch of 10th Street south of downtown.

Source: Omaha World-Herald

Ashton Rendering.jpg
Gail Frame