Reports, Tools & References

2005 Downtown Master Plan


All you hear, is parking, parking, parking. Evaluations show Lincoln doesn't have enough parking downtown. Instead of adding parking in place of existing businesses, and thus creating more less usable space, planner ought to concentrate on ways to ELIMINATE THE NEED for parking. The idea to add 800 residential units is great. Now remember, the people who move into those units will do so, because in part, they will be motivated by saving on gas by walking to various downtown destinations. Except if the plan holds its own, there will be FEWER destinations and MORE garages.

Downtown needs to increase residential and commercial density, DECREASE the space underused as parking lots, provide MORE shopping opportunities including, and this is crucial, GROCERIES, and do everything to encourage people to leave their cars behind.

Lincoln already has a solid bus net that can provide transportation from almost anywhere in the city. It's time to capitalize on the existing system - with an overhaul, of course, that will make it more attractive to daily commuters. Every single student at UNL has a bus pass, but does every student use it? For me, the only thing wrong with the bus system is how few runs are available and how long some of them take.

Another idea - already expressed by a previous post - a commuter train to Omaha. At least, I'd like to see this investigated. Knowing how many people commute to work in either direction, this might be a desirable option. The train would have to have several stops in each city, but not in between.

Nina Murray

I would have to agree with Eric Bigham on some of his comments on how downtown Lincoln has major growth potential. Who needs more convention space!? We would not have to compete with Omaha in the concert industry. If you consider that Quest is the #8 concert center in the world, alot of venues are trying to get in. If they can't get in at Quest they could easily take to the idea of going 40 minutes away to Lincoln if we had a new and larger event center! If the concert or event has a large enough fan base, people would drive 40 minutes just like how Lincolnites drive to Omaha to see concerts!

I do like alot of the ideas in the master plan including the Arts Corridor, parking, access roads, and the addition of twice as much office space and 800 more residential units. This is how downtowns grow!

The city also did a wonderful job of posting this plan in such a good pdf format and creating it with such easy access for the community.

Nathan Walla

I would like to respond to those who think we do not need to do anything with replacing Pershing. They say that the Lancaster Events Center on 84th is good enough to fill whatever extra need there is.

For one thing, the Event Center is too small to replace Pershing. Could it be expanded? Maybe, but at least make a nice auditorium out of any expansion. You'd need a motel row built out there too. Which would be more cost effective, replacing a downtown auditorium with an arena or building all new places on 84th that would not be accessible to public transportation?

The problem we have nationwide is not an excess of places for entertainment, but rather an excess in convention space! Omaha's Quest Center is hurting, not in its entertainment business but in its convention business. The city should NOT build ANY convention space. A developer certainly could build one adjacent to their hotel and support it, but the city should not be held responsible for the convention space in any way or form.

The proof of how popular the entertainment is for Omaha is in the industry. Qwest Center Omaha was named the No 8. concert tickets sales venues in the world by the authoritative ranking Pollstar in the July 15, 2005 issue. In the WORLD folks! For concerts, not conventions!

I think Lincoln could attract concerts with its large population of college students not just at UNL, but Union College, Wesleyan, and a myriad of Lincoln locations for every college our region has that has already located a campus here.

This whole idea that only Omaha could attract a concert is silly. Sure, there may have been concerts cancelled in Lincoln in the past, but what concerts and how long ago? Does that mean that Lincoln cannot support a concert? Two upcoming concerts sold out Pershing in less than a half hour. Pershing of all places, a place at least 50 years old!

There is a demand for an entertainment arena larger than what we have. The city knows this. Common sense tells us that Lincoln has grown at least 100 percent larger since Pershing was built. Do we all stay home? Not from what I see. A concert would certainly beat a drinking binge party.

If you built a new city auditorium right now that would be proportionally the size of what Pershing was then relative to the city size of that time, you'd have to at least double the size of Pershing. After all, Lincoln is at least double the population that it was in the 1950s when Pershing was originally built to hold roughly 8,000 people.

Why do we have to compete with Quest Center? Couldn't we work WITH Quest to book events? Working with the number 8 concert venue in the world cannot be a bad thing.

Glenn Williams

I did not realize while browsing the Downtown Master Plan proposal that the Star Ship 9 theatre would be demolished for this plan! I think that is a mistake! For a parking garage only a block away from other parking garages?

If a replacement second run theatre is built in the downtown area, why not near the Antelope Valley project area or the West Haymarket project area? I think the West Haymarket area would be a nice tie-in.

Put up a building with an outer shell that looks like an old movie palace on the outside. It would look really appropriate in the West Haymarket area. This is a second-run theater we are replacing, i.e. even 6 month old movies could be considered nostalgia.

For opening night of the new second run theatre, find some old movie like Casablanca. Have a dress-up party with a Bogey and Bacall lookalike contest.

The theater could have marble, a pretty chandelier, and whatever details or fixtures that you can find in an Architectural Antiques store. Things that would harken back to the old movie houses.

If built in the Antelope Valley project region, the theatre complex could have a theater or two that the Ross Film Theater could use for those independent films.

Make the complex at least the size of the Grand, so that there would be room to program a theater for the occasional special purpose.

If budgets or available land constrain the theater size, at least give us one second run theatre screen downtown.

I somehow doubt that movie theatres can afford to build just one screen, so a 15 to 20 screen complex is fine. Any size is better than no second run theatre.

With college students eating Ramen noodles and paying ever higher tuition, a $2 movie is about all that they can afford! We want to keep young people entertained, and having a budget theater is one such option that provides that time occupier without getting them in trouble!

Glenn Williams

The Downtown Master Plan Study largely ignores the Antelope Valley Project as if it did not exist. It surely does exist right now and will loom larger in the future.

After a new arena is built, Pershing could be remodeled into a music hall for smaller scale musical concerts on two floors. The lower level and the main floor would make two nice areas for music, perhaps more than two areas. Add in acoustic, visual, and seating improvements. Small scale concerts for new or rising stars of music.

The Rococco Theater would be great for this sort of thing, but with apartments above, there is enough resistance to a music club or music theater there. Maybe Pershing would be the right size to subdivide into two or more musical halls.

As businesses rise along the Antelope Valley project, maybe a musical club or two could occupy some of that space. Lincoln's answer to the big city venues. Something for people of all ages would be the key to the new downtown and Antelope Valley.

My answers are all over the place and contradictory for a reason. There is more than one right answer out there. Be creative, Lincoln! Not everything costs hundreds of millions. Some of it could be as simple as just creating an environment to lure in our own Bourbon Street or SoHo neighborhood.

Glenn Williams

Mildly to greatly disappointed. I think that Glenn Williams pretty much hashes out all of my feelings about the draft report. I understand the importance of the history of a city (which is ironically something that I said in one of my earlier posts), but also at the same time a city needs to think up to keep it vibrant and going. (To comment on some of the posts below) Some people here question why we need another Omaha / to be like Omaha. First, Lincoln will NEVER be Omaha... Lincoln will always be itself. Second, two words: Brain-drain! When you think about it, Lincoln has so much more potential than Omaha. We have a major university and several other fine quality universities and colleges, major railroad hub, the center of state government, high education rate, friendly people, better traffic (when compared to Omaha), a strong community bond, low crime rates, quality schools, one of the lowest electricity rates in the country, many community activities, numerous parks/tails, etc... we have all of this going for us, but Lincoln's problem is that we don't build on it - many don't like change. Because of this, we've lost Gallup to Omaha, missed many opportunities on other large employers (i.e. Waverly, the list goes on and on)... I think I'm starting to go on a rant here :p , so to sum up what I'm trying to say, Lincoln has seen so much change in the so many years of it's existence with the changing dynamics of society, and it has to continue to change with the world, or else it'll be left in the dust. Look towards the future, think creatively, and give our community what it needs for the future generations: Vibrance.

Ok, time to step off of the soap box now
Eric Bigham

I keep thinking about our beloved city. Maybe I'll have to do something to help by putting my words into action myself.

The thing Lincoln needs is more for young single people to do. The city does a wonderful job with children (Children's Museum), elderly (Senior Centers), young teens (recreation centers), and married couples. What entertainment and services are available for those in between those years or statuses?

We have a dominance of local country and blues bands and places for them, but few venues for other kinds of bands for outdoor concerts or for bars. Rock bands that are not pop music bands are few. There are other kinds of music not represented here but in big cities only. Our minority populations may have some ethnic music we don't normally hear either. Be sure they all have a place at the entertainment table. It would show how diverse our city is to visitors and residents alike.

If the arena and a downtown entertainment district (Cabela's state legislative bill if passes would help more than Cabela's - it would help downtown if we sought that designation) make it possible for us to have wider entertainment choices in music and other forms of entertainment -- it cannot come soon enough!

The majority is well served. Just don't ignore the needs of any minorities who could provide the spice we need to enliven our downtown area.

Why don't we turn all of the downtown streets, except 9th, 10th, K, and L into two-way streets? Equal number of lanes going each direction. A center turn lane.

This piecemeal two-way is confusing everyone that goes downtown, most especially our visitors. Stop the madness and make it uniform throughout downtown.

I see that the Downtown Master Plan sites a new train station one block behind the current station.

Since you'd be building from scratch, I do hope that it can be a state of the art multimodal transportation and tourism center. A place where people can buy airline tickets, coordinate car pooling, catch an intercity bus, a charter bus, rent a limosine, board a tourist bus, board any StarTran bus, be a future trolley or light rail center, catch a taxi 24/7, board a passenger or commuter train, take a van to or from the airport in Lincoln or Omaha, rent a car from several rental car agencies, serve as a hiking/biking trail head, and have a Flexcar location (see my earlier words on Flexcar).

The city and state could collaborate in locating a new city and state tourist information center within this new depot. Have one of those From Nebraska stores within the station to shop at, create a Nebraska-based restaurant/food court (Runza, Valentinos-To-Go, Amigos), add a few local tourism agencies, and have a Cornhusker AAA satellite location too.

Have interactive kiosks for tourists to locate and reserve any area hotel/motel room and for people to track the current location of a city bus interactively.

I also hope the station is as beautiful to look at as it is functional. New train stations do not have to look bland if the building is constructed with quality materials. How about add some murals by local artists, inside and outside the station of what our region has for tourists to gawk at or learn about?

Some examples would be to have brick sculpture, murals, or mosaics that would showcase recognizable features and people who came from our state. Places such as the State Capitol, Chimney Rock, Nine-Mile Prairie, Pine Ridge, Sand Hills, waterfalls within our state, the Platte River, Fairview mansion, Frank House, Norris Home, and Fontenelle Forest. People such as George Norris, Henry Fonda, Johnny Carson, Marlon Brando, Nick Nolte, Gerald Ford, Malcolm X, etc. All of these would be located both inside and outside of the train/multimodal transportation station. Interpretive text would explain what these are and where they are from.

This transportation and tourism center would be a wonderful way to combine resources that already exist with services that could not otherwise afford to locate and build their own specialized building. A synergy between all of these things under one roof would keep the building a very active place to be around the clock.

Glenn Williams

The large park proposed near SW Downtown south of the Haymarket is a very large site. It could be the site of the new arena and convention center. The northern portion is just south of M Street, which would be closer to O Street than the proposed site near R Street.

Imagine how huge the arena and convention center could be on that site! The Capital Parkway West bridges going through the middle of the site could be a problem, but a lower portion of the building(s) or a linear open space could go underneath the overpasses. Just a thought.

There are more options than just one, is the point of all of my words. Think creatively, Lincoln.

I see many comments relating to not enough parking garages downtown, but how about the traffic flow going into these parking garages from main arterials. One example: If the Harris Overpass is being reconstructed, would it be possible to have an offshoot of road from this overpass go directly into the neighboring garage(s)? Then traffic is not slown for the cars behind waiting for the car up front to pull into the garage.

Downtown Minneapolis has such an exquisite example of this off one of their main interstates.

Glenn Williams

I like the idea of the public square, but we need that plus a large downtown area park. The plans show an area south of the Haymarket for open space that looks large enough for a public event space - assuming this won't become a lake or something else filling it. Why not have it become a nice public event space?

I would prefer to see more local merchants downtown that create viable retail anchors which are created in our downtown and spread through the world, but if we have to have national merchants then a Trader Joes is okay. National merchants, if they must be there, should be ones we would never get in here otherwise. Something that Omaha and our whole region does not yet have and maybe never will.

Again, I am really objecting to the single use buildings I see in the plan. No plan for high-rise apartments over stores and offices. This does not seem to be a mixed-use plan but rather a retail plan.

We do need more and better retail anchors for sure, but we need a more cosmopolitan downtown with a mixture of architectural styles and uses. The ability to buy anything you can buy in a mall and then some. More tourist venues like an Imax theater. Encouraging a wider mix of people from all walks of life and all sorts of ability and disability levels.

Give us more than Centrums and Grand Theaters with their backsides to 'O' Street. Retail can fit in as skinny as six feet of space by tens of feet, as they do in shopping malls. This would wrap retail around blocks and be affordable to smaller entrepreneurs. Narrow retail spaces would cover up those bare walls I see throughout downtown, some of which has been there forever. Think South 12th south of 'N' (Tier One buildings' west side) for one.

Sometimes we think that one large project will rescue downtown when we need to think of a whole series of projects from tiny to large.

Provide one-quarter percent less local sales tax in the downtown and Haymarket districts to draw shoppers in. Provide a permanent break on taxes for merchants for staying in the downtown district. Try some things that hasn't been done to death everywhere. How about a free trade zone? Provide for and always regulate common health and safety standards, but deregulate the downtown otherwise to encourage innovative thinking from lower income merchants.

We are a long ways from overbuilding parking structures. Until everyone can find a parking space in the Central Park (Centrum) garage while visiting the Grand movie theatres, there will never be enough parking spaces.

The Grand is losing business because the good deal of 3 hours free parking in the Centrum garage cannot be fulfilled because it is an oversold garage and is always FULL. You are nearly two blocks from the Grand front door in that garage anyway. A garage directly across from the Grand, with parking enough for all Grand theatre patrons offering 3 hours of free parking, would ensure the success of the Grand. Don't forget having retail in the lower floor or two of the parking garages.

A downtown area outdoor amphitheater would be nice for summer concerts and plays. Maybe one of the larger open spaces near downtown could hold one?

No matter where it is built, a permanent indoor farmer's market complex would be a nice addition. Farm produce, some eating establishments, a fish market, and some flower selling vendors.

A parking garage above or below it large enough to park all visitors to the indoor market. Sub-Basements and partial first floor parking garage, first to third floor farmer's market, third and fourth floor eating establishments, fifth through tenth floors office space, eleventh through 21st floors apartment complex.

Whenever a parking garage is built, there should be multiple uses above or below it. Real estate downtown should hold more than one use. We could put so much more downtown and still park all of the vehicles. Retail first floor, offices second through tenth, apartments 11th and above. Things like that.

I like the idea of diving 9th and 10th Streets under 'P' Street, but how about under 'M', 'N', and 'Q' Streets as well? Will these tunnels adversely affect any merchants or potential ones along 9th or 10th Streets? I guess there will be access to those streets by ramps up to them from 9th and 10th?

Dream big Lincoln, but dream smart. Don't put all of your eggs into one basket. Start with the smaller projects first. Save money for the bigger projects, just like the rest of us.

I like the idea of streetcars and trolleys. Of light rail and yes, even a subway if possible. Of bike lanes and trails. Over the next 30 years, we will need one of the above for downtown, just to make it livable and allow us to cut through the ever thicker vehicle traffic.

In the here and now though, we need more parking garages. Huge parking garages.

We need a much better mini-bus system too with more frequent arrivals. Fewer large buses in turn, so that we can afford to make them arrive more frequently or run longer into the evening.

Has anyone considered a Flexcar type of program for downtown people who do not wish to buy and maintain their own vehicle? Flexcar is a service in Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and Los Angeles to name a few.

Flexcar has a fleet of rental cars parked in designated lots that allow people to rent a car or van in their neighborhood by using a toll free phone number or web site to reserve a vehicle. This would be perfect for downtown residents. They could use a member key card to unlock a car and use it for as long as they need to.

For reference:

Glenn Williams

I went to a conference two months ago here at the Cornhusker with people from all over the country. Living here all my life thus far, I don't see what people from out of state see. Here is what they told me.

They were amazed that there were crews that went around and cleaned up the downtown, planted things, raked leaves, etc. Just how clean downtown is, compared to their trash strewn downtowns.

They were shocked that Lincoln had an urban area like this. They didn't think the downtown would be that big. They didn't think Lincoln was nearly a quarter of a million people. Nebraska has farm state and small state written all over it. We need to provide venues that show a more cosmopolitan face to both tourists and to natives alike. There should be more than just bars to see.

The interstate is located so far away from everything that you can go through Nebraska and not see much of anything. Including not seeing any hills by driving down the Platte valley, but that is off-topic.

Most conferences don't allow people to really get out of the hotel and if they do, they only go to the Haymarket to the bars - recommended by the hotel. Why can't people planning these conferences plan outings in the downtown area for all of those out of state people to see and do things in the day and night?

I don't think anyone mentioned the Grand theaters, yet I know there were movie showings that would have coincided with the evenings and would have gotten them out of the hotel.

Some actually said that they felt safer walking downtown at night than anywhere they've been. Needless to say, be sure that is not just a perception but a reality too. Be sure the downtown has a police presence at all hours.

I hate that downtown is known only for its bars. There should be attractions that appeal to all ages, not just for the children at the Children's Museum and the bars for all of the drunks.

If you don't work downtown, there is nothing there in the daytime except places to eat - all north of 'O' it seems. The movie theaters have a few showings in the daytime, but otherwise the sidewalks roll up until the evening.

People who used to be aware of downtown now never go there. They can't get out of their cars and move their ever increasing waistlines a half block or more from where they want to go. If they can't park on the block they are going to right by the business, they aren't going.

How do you change that behavior?

The reason Omaha's Civic Auditorium is there still is because of the Music Hall within. This was separate from the old Arena portion and the Music Hall still attracts concerts. My reason for having Lincoln's proposed new arena to have several smaller music theatres surround the arena portion of the building.

Expand the Haymarket into Downtown and points south.

The former City Mission is now a nice Mission Arts building. Do not demolish all of that hard work that made an ordinary historical building extraordinary.

Rethink the businesses allowed in that block though, because you come into Lincoln on 'O' Street overpass and you see a XXX place, a few bars, pawn shops, and many are on that Mission Arts block.

Upscale it like the Mission Arts project did and people might have a better impression. Encourage a district like Haymarket for that block. It will fit in better with the Old City Hall across the street.

Yesterday, I attended a nice FREE outdoor concert in Stransky Park near LGH West. It lasted all afternoon!

A few donation containers (to recoup costs) went around and they were over half full of money. Now this park is not quite one block in size and had all of this going on with people milling in and out.

How hard would it be to find not quite one block of space downtown to replicate that, complete with a free concert schedule? One should be able to go to free concerts (with donations to recoup costs allowed) throughout this city, including downtown, from spring to fall. This beats going to a bar for music any day!

Oh and Stransky Park was built due to a generous donation of the Stransky family. It has an ongoing maintenance fund. It is beautiful, complete with a man-made waterfall!

In effect, Stransky is a privately supported park (no tax money) open to the general public! Take note, city hall! Aren't there any rich people that want to give back to this community, besides the Stransky's?

This would satisfy entertainment, recreation, and beauty all in one place! Put that in your report.

Space wasting place:

The entire square block south of Gold's Galleria. Parking yes, but surface only. Nothing else there and nothing else to look at.

Could this be: Another parking garage site? A city library site? A downtown grocery store site? The possibilities are endless for this underused site. Add floors to the Central Park (former Centrum) parking garage to replace the parking on this site.

Why can't downtown and this whole city have far more totally accessible housing? I am talking about zero threshold showers, handicapped van accessible parking slots, proper clearances for wheelchairs to turn around, etc.

All curb cuts made easier and wider in the directions of the pedestrian crossings. All major pedestrian crossings with countdown to red light audible and visual. All major curb cuts and crosswalks given first priority for snow removal, simultaneous to the street itself being cleared.

I think we will continue to lose handicapped people to other cities, because they have to be on a waiting list for public housing when they really want to live where everyone else lives in public and private housing. Just make all housing (homes, condos, and apartments) totally accessible when built or remodeled. Public or private, all have the same standard.

Some would like to contribute their mental talents to make this city even greater. They are really like everyone else. As this city and the nation ages, we should have this accessibility. After all, you too may become disabled.

From an able bodied person with handcapped friends. Write me at my e-mail address if totally accessible apartments are a part of future downtown plans. It would be a lot closer to where they work.

Glenn Williams

Why does Lincoln have to be Omaha? Everything planned is making Lincoln into an Omaha clone. Lincoln's designs should be drastically different and beautiful to look at. From the east downtown clone of Omaha's Central Park Mall to the proposed Arena, it is like Omaha!

Why not a small lake/pond for east downtown with the stream flowing into and out of it and an Arena in the Haymarket that uses Yankee Hill brick and a classical (old-style) design that truly fits the nearby University and adjacent historical Haymarket warehouse architecture rather than sticking out like some huge space age eyesore? The North 7th Street and 'R' Street location of an Arena should take advantage of its end of street location to build something with columns.

I hate the idea of losing the downtown Post Office for the Arena. I don't want to have to go to the West 'O' area near Sun Valley Blvd. to mail a letter at a future west of downtown branch facility, once this arena is built. Find a suitable downtown area for a replacement post office.

The postal officials even say that they could just consolidate letter processing operations into the Omaha post office and not have a large main facility in Lincoln to process letters. Lincoln, our letters should not have to go in trucks to Omaha to be processed! I do like the idea of the arena location otherwise.

There used to be scores of railroad tracks west of the depot, now there are relatively few. There used to be a tunnel under those tracks for rail passengers to come up between the tracks to catch a train on one of several tracks. Those gondolas where passengers came up between the tracks onto platforms were cool but seem to be mostly gone now! Those seem to have disappeared around the time of the Lincoln Station development.

I hope that some remnant of that is left for historical purposes. It could have been a retail arcade in that tunnel.

Since the tracks are being consolidated and moved west several hundred feet, how are the Amtrak passengers going to reach the train, with a rail spur looped next to the depot?

With that extra space with fewer rail tracks, build a huge high-rise parking garage that would serve the Arena, proposed Hammonds built hotel, and the entire downtown area. Swing a beautiful boulevard/parkway around the west side of this Arena and parking structure that connects to the "Holdrege Street" connector north of the stadium. Put entertainment and retail around the ground floor of this new high-rise parking structure. Loop the downtown bus loop over to this huge parking structure.

Build the largest Arena that can possibly be built, a minimum of 20,000 to 25,000 seats, with multiple smaller music "theaters" for various sizes of concerts surrounding the Arena portion of the building. This could be something that would help the Lied Center out because they only have two theaters that I know of in that center. Lincoln could host events both too large and too small for the Qwest Center with a huge Arena, music halls, and a huge convention center and huge hotel.

Move the Pershing Auditorium mural and some of its stonework to the face of the new Arena and rename the arena as the (insert commercial sponsor name here) Pershing Arena. Such as the Lincoln Alltel Pershing Arena, for example. Alltel Pershing, for short.

Determine whether old Pershing should be torn down and replaced by an extended stay hotel, a city park, a downtown grocery store, a department store, or some other higher use that downtown now lacks.

A competitor to the Douglas theater chain wants to put an 18 screen movie complex at 91st and Pine Lake Road! This would be larger than the downtown theater complex! We are told that several competing movie theater companies want into the Lincoln market. Why so soon after The Grand downtown movie complex opening?

Hey, how about replace old Pershing with a 20-screen movie theater complex or an Imax theater with a high-rise office or apartment tower and parking garage rising above these movie theaters? I am tired of single use spaces, that are unable to build in the air space above them. We are in downtown, not the suburbs! We could build in the air spaces above many downtown Lincoln buildings and blend it architecturally with them, perhaps with setbacks from the lower portion of the building.

Use that new Entertainment/Tourism district money that the legislature will pass to benefit Cabela's locating between Omaha and Lincoln to create a huge Entertainment/Tourist mecca in downtown Lincoln too. No one has ever mentioned this possibility!

We don't need Cabela's downtown, but rather get music clubs, theaters, hotels, the Arena, and other entertainment and tourist venues that will lure tourists downtown at all hours of the day and night. If this passes the legislature, we have only two years to grab our share of the money for downtown and Haymarket. Has anyone thought of this possibility? No!

A downtown tourist district where parking is ample in high-rise parking structures and where parking is free with rebates provided by the venues who benefit the most from convenient on-site parking garages.

Hey, how about an Imax theater downtown or in the Haymarket? How about a department store or grocery store downtown with free and accessible parking in an adjacent high-rise parking structure? We could build several high-rise parking garages downtown.

We always think too small and don't take advantage of potential corporate, state, or federal money. We don't think of how other Lincoln institutions could pool their money to locate downtown or in the Haymarket area, like when the University went in with the Northern League people in building the Haymarket Park ballpark.

Downtown Lincoln should benefit from this infrastructure tax windfall, not just Cabela's out on the Interstate! Lincoln should plan smartly and time this to coincide with what will be out there in the very near future to help us build or rebuild.

Why can't Lincoln build taller buildings? Every new building is no more than two or three stories high! Hey, even with the State Capitol height restrictions we could have many more twenty story buildings throughout most of downtown.

We build downtown like we are building out in the suburbs, complete with space wasting ground level one-level parking lots that hold relatively few cars and single story buildings. Dumb!

No more awful looking buildings! The 1970s were not kind to Lincoln, with the ugly Centrum, the ugly State Office Building, the ugly Federal Building, and more.

May the 21st century bring us beautiful buildings that blend with the past in historical areas and yet can be futuristic and beautiful to see. Something a tourist may actually want to take a picture of.

We are the State Capital. We should think of beauty. After all, Washington, D.C. has many beautiful public spaces. Why shouldn't our state capital have similar beauty of design and beauty in our public spaces?

Our public transit should go to 10 p.m. each night. If we had the downtown and Haymarket popping with activities and working in concert with the University holding night classes and concerts, there would be enough people to fill those buses.

The buses need to go where people are headed, on both ends, where they live and where they want to go. We must rethink the location of the downtown bus loops, possibly alternating the loop to an alternative Haymarket loop on every other downtown trip.

I agree with the person who posted about public transport, a la Breckenridge, Colorado. I haven't been there, but the post illustrated Lincoln's transport problem. Too big of buses! Notice this person said a mini-bus. How much less expensive it would be to fill a mini-bus to capacity than to never fill these huge ships, er buses, that ply the streets here! Maybe we could have more frequent bus arrivals and longer hours of operation with smaller buses!

If a new Arena replaces Pershing, maybe a HyVee or Albertson's type of grocery store could replace the old Pershing?

These grocery stores nowadays are like the old department stores! They have clothes, they have paint brushes, they have deli areas, they have restaurant style seating, they have bank branches, they have hair salons, they have eye glass places, they have ATMs, they have cinnamon rolls, they have everything downtown dwellers would drool over.

A whole city block and the potential to build a parking garage on half of that block to park all of their cars. Think of the possibilities to serve Capitol workers and college students alike.

We need a year-round farmer's market building. Nashville, Tennessee has a year-round indoor farmer's market building that has small eating establishments and produce intermingled. They are located near their Capitol building.

Imagine a beautiful permanent indoor farmer's market building for budding entrepreneurs to sell their produce and baked goods where Pershing now stands. One square block of small entrepreneurs. The perfect replacement for old Pershing.
Glenn Williams

I would like to comment on the possibility of a new arena downtown. It should be built with an arena floor area equal to the Qwest Center in Omaha and seat at least as many, if not more, than Quest. Whether Lincoln likes it or not, it is in cometition with Omaha and Qwest. Some comments say to hold the size down. Sure you don't want to over build, but you don't want to under build. Pershing Center probably looked big enough when it was built, but Lincoln has outgrown it. And Lincoln will continue to grow.

Also, as I recall, when the State Legislature was considering funding for the Devany Center, Senator Terry Carpenter wanted it built with seating for over 20,000. If it had been built that large, Lincoln might not have lost the State Wrestling Meet.

Also, any plans for a new arena should look at the State Fair Grounds for a location, as well as the Haymarket Area. If the State Fair wants to build some kind of events center there, it could be combined with a new arena to make a first class facility. It could be used in conjunction with the Devany Center there (such as the state high school meets). Also the Fair Grounds already has parking. Even if it needed to be upgraded, it might be cheaper than building parking in the Haymarket area. And the Fair Grounds are already set up to move large numbers of vehicles in and out.

And finaly, if a new arena is built, why does the Pershing Center need to be taken out of use as an arena? After all, Omaha didn't close the Municipal Auditorium when Qwest was opened.

Steve Hay

Is there a way that we could attract a "Trader Joe's" to downtown Lincoln? It would both be an excellent grocery store solution for the neighborhood AND it would draw in people from all around (as long as the store would also have convenient parking). Trader Joe's features economically priced, ecologically sensitive, often entirely organic, but always natural, nutritional and specialty foods. I'm sure the fundamental attractiveness of Trader Joes's business has been well proven at dozens of locations across the country. The profitability of this store might surprise Lincoln. I don't know TJ corporate restrictions on its own expansion, but is there any way to make inquiries or simply suggest it to developers looking for a good investment to pursue for downtown?
Cecilia Rossiter

I have some very strong opinions about what has been going on lately with our city but I will reserve them for barber shop talk. Instead I would like to offer some sage advice at a cost far less than what we are paying these consulting firms. First, the center of our city absolutely must be the hub of the wheel. To artificially grow the city disproportionately in one direction or another in relation to the hub is wrong because we have no geographic obstacles like large rivers or mountains to prevent us from growing symmetrically. This symmetry is important because the arterials of transportation become the spokes of this wheel. Our fathers of this city and the surveyors of this state had it right when they laid out mile roads and the city laid out the grid system in alignment with these roads. These mile roads are important for getting rural people into and out of the city. The mile roads became the grid of arterials that interlace our city. Look at Phoenix, Arizona. With this system we should have four lane arterials criss-crossing the city from all directions. Closer to the center of the city more four lanes are present until they are every block. The reason for all this is to create access to downtown. Access creates use. Use breeds vitality. Vitality breeds atmosphere and atmosphere leads to IDENTITY. Lincoln, Nebraska, history, flavor, gateway to the west, whatever we make of it. Lincoln flavor comes from Lincolnites, not money hungry franchises. Lincoln is people, faces, bodies in motion. Lets make downtown a place to go to not through. We must act as a community as did the Lincolnites before us. Our greatest asset and tourist attraction is a garbage ditch turned world-class botanical garden by mostly private funds. If we can dream hard enough we might see large department stores downtown again. Lets not try to be notorized by a big noisy food and booze fest. We can do better than that. Arts, culture, history, architecture, natural beauty. These things are better labels. I have more but I've exceeded my time limit for my $75,000 consulting fee. Go Lincoln!
Michael Douglas Olson

Thanks to the City for taking this important step in shaping the future of the heart of our city! After attending the open house meetings thus far, my only drawback to the ideas presented in the plan is the need to still bow down for the car. Specifically, the ideas that Centennial Mall and a future Downtown Plaza need to have roads carved into them to be successful. I would like to invite the consultants to journey to Pearl Street in Boulder, CO, or to the European piazzas they reference in their presentations and see how these spaces are very successful because they do not rely on cars. Lincoln has a very accessible downtown (although the suburbanites of Lincoln may wrongfully disagree). Let's keep our downtown a pedestrian accessible space and not tip the balance to the almighty car in such important spaces as Centennial Mall and the great idea of this Downtown Plaza.
Cleveland Reeves

Some thoughts on EMINENT DOMAIN - The question of taking away owners' private property for private use goes far beyond the Hammons Hotel proposal. It sets a dangerous precedent for the entire city, and especially so with the new downtown comprehensive plan looming.

A yes vote puts every property owner, especially downtown property owners, on notice that they may have their property taken away any time someone with more money and clout decides they want it, if it would be "better" for the city in the view of our elected city officials.

If this is the case, why would any "little" guy want to buy and renovate any real estate (or make improvements to their existing property) in downtown if they had the uncertainty of knowing that at any time it could be taken away from them? As I understand it, the city can only pay "appraised" value, not replacement value or what the owner has invested in the building, let alone any relocation costs. This could leave many property owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole and ruin them financially. Knowing this, no smart business person would do a quality job of any improvements to their building (i.e. insulation, HVAC, finish materials, etc.), if they made any improvements at all.

If existing property owners are afraid to invest any more in their small properties, there can be unintended consequences in the form of unmaintained and empty buildings, as a result of owners waiting in limbo for years, fearing that their property will be next.

My personal interest in this debate, other than the question of fairness, is that I am one of these small property owners, having bought and renovated the old City Mission building into the Mission Arts Building, 124 So. 9th. I am on the new comprehensive plan's "hit list," as it has been proposed that a better use of my property would be for a giant grocery store. I know that my building would not appraise at anywhere near what I have in it, as I did a quality job with quality materials. I am now faced with the uncertainty of losing my home and my lifestyle at some uncertain time, or maybe never. It doesn't really matter. Because of the uncertainty, I have cancelled plans for more investment into my building and am living with the knowledge that I could, at any time, lose all that I have worked so hard to accomplish over the last 11 years. I don't want to have to live this way and neither should anyone else.
Judith Andre

Imagine the healthier lifestyles, air-quality benefits, and noise reduction of becoming a more bicycle-friendly community. Safe bike lanes downtown, more trails leading toward downtown, adequate numbers of bike racks -- or even bike lockers! -- and adequate, timely snow removal & de-icing on all city streets and trails could all help decrease the traffic congestion and parking problems downtown. I for one would happily pay higher taxes to achieve these goals; you can have some of my gas/car maintenance savings.

Thanks for this opportunity for citizen input.
Joan Phelan

How about putting the main post office at the pershing center location or block...same size good location for city far as semi-truck I'm sure your planners can find a way...also that ramp-park across street from pershing center can be use for post office also...yea!
Bill Phillips

In order to entice people to live in the downtown (and I am thinking of the Haymarket in particular) it is important to transform some of the hourly parking spots around the residential buildings into affordable, reserved parking for residents. Who wants to carry out heavy grocery etc. from parking structures to their loft? Not to mention game days.
Berthe Y. Choueiry

Wow! So much discussion - I think it's great. I just have a small suggestion - that the focus for pedestrians, parks and shopping should be the north/south streets between 11th and Centennial Mall. Trying to make P Street into a pedestrian-friendly avenue is really not the best use of that street. There are too many cars that need to travel from west to east, and as we saw with the two-way debacle, O Street and M Street are not big enough to shoulder the extra load that P Street is carrying. So, make those little side-streets (some, if not all) into pedestrian-friendly spaces with retail, restaurants, parks, benches, food carts, etc. We could even have the public transportation (trolley or buses) run through them - some city that I've been to does that with narrow winding brick lanes, I can't remember where.
Jodi Voss

If Lincoln gets a streetcar line from the Haymarket to the Rock Island station, I believe the Rock Island station should be a gift shop or souvenir shop, not a bank.

And, by all means, get a downtown grocery store (I lived in downtown Berkeley, CA, and after two "mom and pop" grocery stores closed - - I had to shop for groceries at 2 or more places, like a drug store and a mini-mart, etc., so I feel for the residents of downtown Lincoln).

P.S. The skywalk system should be extended.
Diana McGinnis

I've been following this study from afar for a while now... and looking at the newest design concepts posted on the website here, I would have to disagree with the "Centennial Lights" that are proposed to be used in the future design standards. Originally, Downtown Lincoln and a number of outlying areas had what are now simmilar to the "Ornamental Lights" (like on 'R' Street, the 'O' Street sidewalks, or Lincoln Mall) during the 1950s & 60/70s. Lincoln is a pioneering city, not what you could classify as an established city on the east coast where you might have found lights similar to the "Centennial Lights" back in the old days. I want to see Downtown Lincoln take a step forward in design, but I still would like to see a piece of its past remain on the future new Avenues.
Eric Bigham

Please establish a good bonafide grocer where we can buy basic, bonafide groceries. We who work and study downtown want a place to buy the basics!

The more local suppliers of these groceries, the better. I think we've had enough of produce and other foods being trucked all across the country. Our local farmers have what we need and we need what they have! Let's start talking and make this a reality.
Jeanette Nakada

I would like to see a grocery store/deli located on the P Street retail sector, something along the lines of the small mom and pop grocery stores/delis a person would find in Manhattan. Downtown students and employees would greatly appreciate being able to walk to a downtown market and pick-up whatever items they need before heading home and thereby avoid an unnecessary stop at some huge mega-mart.

If we hope to attract families to live downtown, we need to provide places for children to play outdoors, places where families can walk their dogs, go out for ice cream after dinner and sit outside and enjoy a perfect summer nights.

I am in favor of a civic square/plaza or green space at 13th and P Street. The nearby coffee shops, restaurants, and ice cream store would compliment such a use. Should we consider a parking facility for bikes along "P" Street? There is currently a bike repair shop located on P Street near the Birkenstock store. I think bike riders would appreciate being able to have their bikes serviced near a bike parking facility.

We now have a tendency to use 13th and O Street as sort of a civic square, but I believe the traffic is too dense. I work in an office building at the intersection of 13th and O Streets. I hear cars colliding and drivers slamming on their breaks at the intersection of 13th and O because drivers are paying attention to something going on the sidewalk and not the traffic signals in front of them. I also see pedestrians dart into the street and nearly get themselves killed. For everyone's safety, a civic square should not be located near an "O" Street intersection.

I am concerned about the emphasis on the convention center. I suspect Omaha's Qwest Center will draw most conventions away from Lincoln because guests can be entertained at nearby casinos or a world class zoo. Has there been any research to determine if a convention center in Lincoln could be successful given the proximity of the Qwest Center? If we build it, will they come? What will convention guests do? Remember, they can shop and go to a restaurant or bar in their hometown.

Finally, I believe a great deal of imagination needs to go into how we develop the area in between downtown and the UNL campus. Students, staff and faculty should be drawn to come downtown to shop and for entertainment (not just drinking). Downtown employees should be encouraged to stay downtown after work and attend events at UNL (Lied Center, Sheldon gallery, Morrill Hall, sports activities). I think putting any type of mammoth apartment buildings, office buildings, hotels etc, between the downtown district and UNL would create an artificial barrier. Instead, the area should be a gateway corridor between the two worlds.
Kim Sturzenegger

Every so often (too often) the city hires a high price firm to study downtown Lincoln. In the end very little is done to improve downtown other than alot of money thrown away on studies. There is no sense trying to fix downtown Lincoln until you fix the traffic problem so people can get to downtown and back out. Spend the money on our streets first.
Michael Von Busch

The comments on the Downtown Master Plan seem to say that everybody has an Opinion. I think that someone needs to recognize that changing a city is not easy. We went to the Highway to get people to buy from Lincoln.

I believe that development is out of control. And people need assess what they have instead of thinking that the Downtown won't survive. I believe that someone needs to consider having on the internet things that are downtown, to show the people what we have. Thanks for your time.
Michael Brown

More parking is needed; a block converted to a park would be wonderful; Pershing should be relocated so you can EASILY get to it and EASILY leave; small shopping malls near the hotels; streets/blocks can be closed off to create a promenade/sidewalk cafe/street entertainment area esp. after 6 p.m.; the skywalk system needs more development; eyesore just to the south of the east/west viaduct should be eliminated.
T McKinnon

As far as green space in the downtown area, I thought we were going to have the mall between the capitol and unl converted to green space. I believe parking is somewhat of a problem but a number of parking garages have been built in the last 5 years so this should be a declining concern. In regards to parking downtown, I believe that parking should be free on Saturdays and especially during football games - it was not fun getting a ticket during a football game because I could not get back to plug my meter - good PR city and police.

The event center or whatever is being contemplated to replace Pershing needs to be realisticly looked at. With Omaha's (is that a bad word??) new Q-West center, Lincoln will NEVER compete for national acts or events. Lincoln needs to build a center that will be allowed to host the Stars, roller skating some basketball and maybe arena football. Don't overbuild this to hold 13,000 customer concerts because they will not happen in Lincoln.

Restaraunts. The biggest regret here is that Lincoln restaurants (for the most part) can also be found in Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines or any other city - chains. I will admit that Mistys, the steak house and a few small establishments have done well but nothing else has been in this town for more than 10 years.

Lincoln needs to decide if it wants to be a city or a big town. Just a few thoughts.
Michael Szatko

This study should focus on developing a small, relatively inexpensive focal point, or series of focal points that can spur development adjacent to them.

People who post comments stating they want restaurants are themselves out to lunch. Hey, this isn't about your stomach. We aren't spending $350 thousand so you can eat caviar on every block downtown. This is about the big picture. The downtown failed because zoning and natural market forces created a better environment away from downtown.

Hopefully these over priced out of town consultants will realize this, and not pander to these silly requests. We need a downtown that is harmonious with natural forces, and that will in turn encourage redevelopment. Every city will have blighted areas. We don't live in Heaven yet.

I think the biggest trouble with every city are the landlords who neglect their property. The biggest landlord downtown is the City of Lincoln. They own all the streets, and the infrastructure. If it looks crappy, it's the Mayors fault! Of course there's others too, but the street scape is the fault of the city.
Patricia Meyer

We need an upscale restaurant or two; all the good ones are closed -- Renaissance Room, Underground, Exchange, even Flatwater Grill. And we need more hip restaurants like Chipotle.

I'd like to see a nonconcrete walking path for downtown office workers to get some exercise on their lunch hours.

We may need more police presence downtown after dark until the bars close.

Newcomers to Lincoln find the one-way streets very confusing. They used to at least be somewhat predictable--every other one went the opposite direction. Now there's no way to figure out ahead of time which way you're going to need to turn. They should either be returned to every other street the opposite direction, or done away with entirely.
Barbara Torrey

I think we should get rid of the idea that the Capitol should be the focal point of our city. I feel we should bring in larger buildings. Our downtown is dwarfed by cities 50,000 or smaller than we are. I'm also with everyone on the parking.

I think we should put more stuff out there supporting the Huskers. The University makes alot of Lincoln. I would be proud of Lincoln being painted red, so when someone from out of state passes through they know they're in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It would be nice if we had some parks or fountains. Somthing to be proud of other than our mass corn field when you have out of state visiters. Somewhere you can take them and say "see what we have!"

One other topic, I remember high school. There is NOTHING for teenagers to do here but get in trouble. The only thing was a rip off state fair with sky rocketing prices, but the same thing every year. Look where the fair is now.
Dennis Mcqueary

Great site. Thanks for dealing with these important issues.
Epix Comman

Let's be realistic. Lincoln does need more parking - unless it gets better transportation. Downtown does need to attract shoppers - but first, it needs better parking or better transportation. And be prettier. In the end, for me it comes down to more parking lots surrounded by ugly back bare walls of buildings, or a pedestrian-friendly downtown with speedy, quiet, maneuverable public transportation. Which one of these is less realistic?.. Hmm, let me think. For now, I think it'll do us all a whole load of good if there was more green downtown, more plants, vines, flowers, tall grasses - whatever can stand the traffic without requiring too much maintenance. The trees already there look good but provide little shade - they are all so young. And who wants to see all those cars in the lots - wouldn't it be better to put up trellises and plant flowering vines? (Making sure, of course, that drivers are safe entering and exiting the lots).

Public transit, it seems, is bound to remain in the realm of the unrealizable... Yet, if we together, do manage at least to plant the seeds of a vision in the city planners - one day maybe Lincoln will enjoy a street-car system, separated from the general traffic, clean, and fast.
Nina Shevchuk

I like most of the comments so far regarding this issue. My hope is that they will be taken seriously by the powers that be. It is my paranoid belief that years ago, one of the owners of Gateway Mall who served on a downtown board, wanted to make downtown a PARKING LOT for people to be bussed out to Gateway. We really need to think seriously about this.

So many historic buildings have been torn down. Look at the block where Embassy Suites sits!

If a plan is enacted, it needs to be done without tearing anymore old buildings down. (Besides Pershing)

Why was that movie theater allowed to be built? It looks awful. Did monkeys design that? What will happen to the other theaters? Did the designers also decide how easily that building can be converted into something else when it fails? You think they would have taken a hint from the fabulous Centrum Mall idea...something that ugly will not last.

My suggestion for 48th and O is for that whole area to be renovated into a park with a lawn that crosses over O street. Think about how much cooler that area would be without all that concrete. Hey, who am I kidding? Some brilliant designer will come up with another ugly, ridiculous building idea.

The continuity of O Street must be part of the plan, especially from 17th to 56th. Let's all make sure this whole thing does not get hijacked by greedy, short term visionaries, ok?
Adam Wall

I realize that I've already posted a comment but, talking with friends and co-workers the past week, I feel I have more to say. People say there are too many bars. They say we need more parking, better transportation, and more places to shop downtown. I've heard that Lincoln is ugly, old, and tired looking, and that we need newer and better everything. To these people I say...MOVE! Lincoln doesn't need a face lift. He doesn't need a new set of clothes. She doesn't need to go on a diet. Lincoln is beautiful! I love the chaos on a game day. I love the buff and sand colored buildings. I enjoy the quirky, and sometimes dangerous, way we drive. I like that the capitol is the tallest building! I like that sometimes you have to walk a few blocks after parking to get where you're going (this seems to be complained about way too much). I like all the bars downtown (in fact I wish there were more). These and other things make Lincoln something that many people, mostly those who don't live anywhere near downtown, dislike with such passion...UNIQUE! It seems that most citizens want a downtown shopping area where they can go after a football game or work, because why else would they go downtown, and sip $6 coffees while wondering what Husker shirt they want to buy. Then after a few hours at a SPORTS BAR (because they are ok, while bars that don't serve food and don't have tacky accessories nailed to the wall are bad) it's time to drive home drunk to the new subdivision. I know this may sound mean spirited and partly inaccurate but it has happened to many cities and I see it happening here, if every so slowly. I want a downtown with old brick alleyways, cracked sidewalks, and students getting drunk. I want a downtown with good restaurants, good museums and galleries, and places for children to play and learn. But I don't want gentrification and homogenization. Can't we come to a compromise?
John Hulett

I am in agreement of the many postings about the development of a transportation system within the downtown area. Also, longer meter times and no charge for parking on Saturdays....this is the only town that I am aware of that currently charges for parking on Saturdays!

The Haymarket area has been nicely developed as well as around the University and Lied....what is really deplorable is "O" Street. This is the first view of the city that visitors see when then come into the city. They cross over the viaduct and shops, bars, more porn shops and more bars! Granted, they both generate a fair amount of tax dollars for the city, but at what cost! More than once I have seen students (and adults) so drunk they could barely walk and being helped by one of their pals into yet another bar. "O" Street has become comparable to the red-light districts of some of other cities, and what a poor way to greet our visitors. I can not imagine yet another liquor license being granted for yet another bar at 14th and O.

Enough of that....with the development of several more condos in the downtown area, there is a real need for a great grocery store - more like a well-stocked deli - and not a Super-Saver. The people in this area are looking for a place to pick up special breads, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, meats and deli items along with some of the necessary items for everyday life (lightbulbs, etc).

Small shops should be encouraged with whatever means possible. I am old enough to remember the wonderful days when Golds, Magees, Hovland Swanson, Ben Simon and Miller & Paine graced the main street and you could spend hours wandering through the isles of these great merchants - and always stop for a cinnamon roll at the Miller & Paine tea room....While I realize the these giants are probably not able to be replaced, it is quite pathetic to know that you can not even purchase a decent pair of slacks withouth heading out to one of the shopping malls. Many great cities have maintained a vibrant and economically healthy downtown....could not Lincoln make smaller merchants such an attractive offer, that they could not refuse? I truly believe that if you built it, they will come. The baby-boomers that once spread out to the sub-burbs are now moving back to the inner-city - and with it comes their spending power.
Phyllis J Ahlman

Gosh, where to start... I don't think that One Dime of city money should be spent north of O street, either in the downtown area or in the Haymarket. There's just no more room. Critical mass *has* been reached. It's difficult to casually visit downtown, and running quick errands in the Haymarket is virtually impossible. Sure, there are parking garages, but I'm just not interested in parking in a garage to grab a cup of coffee at the Mill.

The city has to go SOUTH. However, there is a huge mental block against going that direction. In the Haymarket, no one sees south past the pigeon droppings under the Harris Overpass (actually, money spent dealing with pigeons would be worth it - seriously!!!!!!). On 11th Street, no one sees past the tired people waiting at bus stop between O and N.

When someone steps out of the Embassy Suites at 11th and Q, there's restaurants, bars, shops, nightlife. When someone steps out of the Cornhusker Hotel (or whatever it's going to be called) at 13th and M, they should be able to find the same thing. The nearest restaurant is what? Maybe Papa John's by the City Library. And there is no upscale dining. The closest bar might be The Night Before or Duggan's. Hmm - strippers and bikers (although I hear the food at Duggan's is pretty good). But someone exiting the Cornhusker will find the sidewalks rolled up at night.

In addition, when people leave Saint Paul United Methodist Church on Sundays there should be some brunch options other than the Cornhusker. People working at the Capitol and the State Office Bldg need to eat, too. Sure, they can walk a few blocks to the north, but why not have something right there? There is a great need to provide dining and entertainment options, SOUTH of O Street.

Also, this committee would be remiss if it didn't consult with members of the Everett, South Salt Creek or Near South Neighborhood assiciations, because Downtown and The Haymarket bleed directly into these areas. I live in the Everett neighborhood (Lincoln's "Little Greenwich Village"), and I get the occasional comments about living in "that" part of town (undesirable?). In a city the size of Lincoln, there should be NO undesirable areas. Encouraging some up-scale housing, nice restaurants or public spaces on the south end of downtown would improve the image of these neighborhoods, too.

What else....well, I was in Portland last summer, went to that Town Square downtown (whatever its called) and drank coffee while hundreds of other people were hanging out. Some jugglers, some lunching, some reading the New York Times. There was some lively debating, and there was even a political rally - complete with a brass band and protest signs. Black, white, old, young, rich, poor. Such a hub of activity - the place to be on a Friday afternoon, and it was way cool. We need someplace like that. SOUTH of O Street.

And then, I've been traveling a lot this summer, and have been in many smaller towns and seen their concepts of downtowns. Davenport, IA. Charlestown, WV. Vermilion, OH. Frenchtown, NJ. There is some cool stuff going on. Some risk-taking. Lincoln has kind of a "we're just fine, thank you" mentality. "We have lovely bike paths." As I was coming in on Interstate 180 after driving 3,000 miles I could almost hear the automatic garage door opening to let me in, and closing behind me. Comfy cozy.

I hope that this committee doesn't put its hope in downtown redevelopment via the construction of one big building or complex of any sort. I look at the new Douglas theatre and aside from the design considerations (cartoon-y), there's no parking and they're putting the back door on O Street, Lincoln's Main Street.

Imaginative uses for current structures would be preferred, especially since Lincoln doesn't have that many to work with, anyway - we should try to hold onto some history. But if city leaders settle for something unimaginative such as tearing down old, interesting buildings for a TGIFridays, I wouldn't be surprised.

And FINALLY - I know that Lincoln HATES to be compared with Omaha, but there is some incredible stuff going on up in its Old Market and along the riverfront. This Lincoln project doesn't have the same scope and we don't have a riverfront, but the people in Omaha have some interesting ideas on how existing architecture, new construction, green spaces, living and working spaces AND entertainment can all work side by side.

I wish you well in your efforts.
Karen Sandene
Living just south of Downtown Lincoln since 1977

I think if anything is an eyesore it's the USBank building! I love that Lincoln is nearly free of glass skyskrapers, and I hope it stays that way. I love the brick buildings, old and new. It lets me know that I'm not in a shopping mall. It's a little upsetting to see pictures of Lincoln before WWII. So much of the city's turn of the century architecture is gone forever. Centennial Mall needs work, maybe a playground next to the Children's Museum? More people living downtown would be beneficial, as long as rents stay low. I would mostly like to see downtown grow east and south. A new auditorium/convention center is inevitable, but I think it shouldn't be named after a business unless that business contributes at least 75 percent of monies needed for construction and upkeep. I don't want anyone getting free advertising on my dollar! Where Pershing is now could be a park, with a band shell and playground, etc. I think some small changes could go a long way in Lincoln.
John Hulett

Could there be some kind of food court cooperative reasonably placed and appropriate to combine resources and land and be covenient to any proposed open gathering place in order to replace free standing type fast food restaurants for the benefit of those that may be better off removed from downtown or otherwise replaced??
T Hopkins

The wonderful downtown vitalization accomplished in Portland, Racine, San Francisco, et al, by Crandall Arambula Consultants is inspiring and hopeful for Lincoln. Is it really possible that Lincoln could someday, in my lifetime, have a large downtown plaza, with greenery and fountains, for congregating and ice skating?

I agree with the apparent preliminary priorities of the consultants and I have some concerns which I suppose come under the category of "housekeeping."

The new Downtown Master Plan is an opportunity to address the real or perceived barriers between uptown and the Haymarket, i.e., Ninth and Tenth Streets, via traffic flow, foot bridges, overpasses, underpasses, or traffic redirection. It is also an opportunity to address the need for traffic redirection on home football game days back to the Haymarket via the 9th & J intersection and the 8th and J intersection. The Mayor's office is considering temporary mobile electric signs for this upcoming season.

Traffic coming from the north on Ninth Street should not be allowed to turn left (East) on 'P" Street. Through traffic should be directed to "O" and "M" Streets or further south and then zipped out past and behind the Village Inn at 29th Street and then back on to "O" Street. All that Eastbound "P" Street traffic has to stop and back up and turn at 27th Street and, then, again at 27th and "O" Streets, anyway. But back at 9th and P, no one is thinking about the haltdowns at 27th Street.

The DMPC should press the City of Lincoln Public Works Department to project possible and probable dates for the demolition and rebuilding of the Harris Overpass to reduce the incline to meet present-day standards, so that project will not be a surprise when it occurs.

More downtown housing is an appropriate top priority. Some of the more recent new housing, however, is on the small side. Given the proclivity of the younger generation to live in groups of two or more, with bicycles and skis, perhaps a little larger living space should be encouraged in future developments. In order to attract more mature folks with disposable income downtown, units with two and three bedrooms and underground parking should also be encouraged. Minimalism is a tough adjustment. Two bedroom units at University Towers have been selling like hotcakes at $120,000+.

And, of course, a grocery store and health food store is needed downtown. Perhaps they could be combined.

The promised bicycle trails to the Haymarket are, as we know, long overdue.
E. Wayne Boles

Downtown needs van accessible handicapped parking. Van accessible parking has 8 ft adjacent to the parking space for a ramp to descend for a chair to drive down the ramp; or for an elevator lift to lower to carry a chair. There is some handicapped parking, but van accessible parking is extremely limited. A specific example is the handicapped parking in front of the Cornhusker Hotel. Curb-side parking should work for van accessible parking, but the city??? (or someone) has installed flower gardens with a 3 inch lip around them. These flower gardens make the handicapped parking in front of the Cornhusker unusable for a person driving a ramp-van or elevator-van and needing to exit the van. (UN-L campus has some van accessible handicapped parking; however if the downtown master plan is to encourage participation at events, or shopping downtown, there must be a way for those with limitations to access downtown. I am available and eager to provide the committee with a drive/frustration attempt to park and access downtown Lincoln (currently I need to do my shopping at the shopping centers that provide van accessible handicapped parking.)
Joan Laughlin

I would like to add my voice to those who are seeking a "greener" / more pedestrian friendly downtown. I also see our downtown taking on more characteristics of a neighborhood and as such, would hope that enhancements such as bike lanes, park-like settings, and a grocery store may become a reality.

I heard today that Lincoln lacks a specific destination that one would think of when looking to meet someone in the downtown area. While other cities have a centrally located park, about the best we have to offer at this point in the core area (with the exception of the Foundation gardens ) would be the bench outside the Walgreens at 13th and O.

A more pedestrian friendly atmosphere would be a great asset to those of us who choose to live downtown, as well as those who would be visiting this area. I moved here from a city in Arizona where the downtown area was allowed to deteriorate over time into your basic nightmare, so it is encouraging to think that this process may lead to some progressive results.

Thank you for considering our comments.
Travis Berry

I think it is very exciting that they are looking at revitalizing downtown Lincoln. I know they tried to take a first step about 6 or 7 years ago by turning P Street into 2 ways but it didn't turn out very well. I think that a 2 way P Street would have worked had they also turned Q Street into 2 ways. The reason that P Street didn't work is because they didn't have an equal number of lanes going east and west. With Q Street running 3 lanes west and P Street running 1 lane west and 1 lane east. We had 4 lanes going west and only 1 lane going east in that 2 block section.

The other good thing about going back to having 2 lanes going east and west on both Q and P Streets is that it tends to slow down the traffic. With the Lied Center on Q Street and the Children's Museum on P Street it would be good to slow down the traffic for pedestrians.

It creates more parking on Q and P Streets by having cars parked at angles on both sides of the streets. It helps connect the Haymarket to the rest of downtown, and it helps define an area for much needed retail space in downtown.

Michael Volkmer

We have to realize that the car cannot forever be the mode of transport for the daily journey to and from work. The roads into Lincoln and the many parking-houses are already having problems coping with the number of cars. Lincoln needs to attract more people to its buses, but for that to be possible the system needs serious rethinking. All areas of Lincoln and the new schools in particular need to be served by buses. Successful bus systems in other cities could be studied. A hub system might be developed. There was a letter in the Journal Star Aug 9 suggesting that the blighted area north of 48th and O Street might become a hub. Buses could travel in their BUS-ONLY lane up and down O Street with herring-bone style routes joining other bus-routes at say downtown, 70th Street and 84th Street, some buses might stop at more crossings. Those new hubs could have free parking so that commuters are enticed to leave their cars there and take the bus to work. Obviously the buses must run into the evening. It is ironic that the refugees who have been settled in Lincoln because of its relatively low cost-of-living have to spend their hard-earned dollars buying a car and sometimes more than one so they can get to work and school!

Bicycles are a mode of transportation that ought to be encouraged. Bicycle lanes should be built, or least marked on certain streets downtown so that people can safely ride to work.

It is wonderful to see the increase in numbers of people who live downtown, but they need to be able to walk to a grocery store.

The heavy traffic in the Haymarket does not mix well with the many restaurants with outdoor eating. Perhaps at least in the evening 8th Street could be closed to traffic.
Dika Eckersley

Downtown has shown signs of transforming into a neighborhood rather than a retail area and I'd encourage this development. To foster this downtown needs to become more pedestrian friendly, more walkable and to have area where people can congregate, visit and interact. Restaurants have done a little in this regard with the various outdoor seating spots with some restaurants but heavy traffic, unsafe pedestrian crossings and constant construction upheaval, the cultivation of a pedestrian condusive/friendly enviroment is hampered and discouraged. Parks, more benches, pedestrian/bike friendly design and affordable housing/grocery and other retail would foster this.

Autos should be banned from the Haymarket area in particular, and in turn the area should be served by bus/trolley's that take people from the parking garages or offices to the desired location in the Haymarket or downtown loop. Evening shuttle service between Lied, theatre's or bars/other entertainment venues and parking garages would be a real asset. In short, Downtown could really become a real Neigborhood.

Daytime Retail should be encouraged. I'm thinking of the concept used in the KC area near the Hyatt Regency and and the Union Train station.

I recall that Madison WI has done this on "State St", the street running from the Univ. to the Capitol. This retail/residental street is only accessible on foot or by city transit and is a very vibrant area.

Public Transit needs to be completly scrapped in its current structure and redesigned to better serve the city. A shuttle/downtown system needs to be designed to function in a manner that encourages a pedestrian friendly community downtown, perhaps as described above, and with another part of the system moving people throughout the city to work, doctors appointments, the airport and other key areas of the larger community. Overall the entire system needs to refocus on being a key player in economic development for the city. Transit could be a key player in making Lincoln attractive for convention traffic. A refocus on customers and quality customer service is also essential.

The public library is another gem of the city that could be further developed. Perhaps administrative and processing (non-public) services could be relocated to another, ajacent or rebuilt structure and the exsisting structure be refurbished for more public use.

If memory serves, a few years ago a study was done showing how Pershing could be upgraded and revitalized. The information in that study should be revisited and acted upon.

Downtown has tremendous potential if one is willing to dream and dream BIG.
Susie Dunn

When you finally have your downtown upgrade done, it would be good to have a visitor center or Kiosk with Hotel/Motel and Restaurant advertisements on Interstate 80 entrances to Lincoln. Sunday evening I decided to make Lincoln my half way stop between Iowa and Colorado. So I drove into the city onto "O" Street. There did not seem to be any nice places to stay or any upscale eating places. Unfortunately I turned to the right off of "O" Street and ended up going through the most beautiful residential area but alas no restaurants or hotels other than the back side of the Holiday Inn that did not look appealing.

THEN after about 1/2+ hour of looking, I drove North on 10th and then happened to turn right onto "P" street. That is when I saw the Embassy Suites. We stayed there and had a wonderful dinner in the "Misty" restaurant across the street. So it ended well. The next morning as we drove out of the city we "happened" onto the street with outdoor restaurants just West of where we had stayed and could have walked to. It appears that Lincoln is one of the "Best-kept secrets in Nebraska". For 20 years I have driven back and forth on Interstate 80. We always say "we should go into Lincoln one day".... and we always drive on because we don't want to take time to search.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your redevelopment. You certainly have a wonderful place and there appears to be a lot of things to do in Lincoln. We now have Lincoln on our midway destination stop and are planning to spend two nights so we can spend a day seeing the sites. Too bad it's taken us this long to find you!!
Pat Oakley

I am writing to offer my comments regarding public transportation in Lincoln. I recently returned from a week's stay in Breckenridge, Colorado, and had the astounding and enjoyable experience of traveling on a free public transportation system (consisting of in-town trolleys, a type of minibus, and in-town and town-to-town regular buses) that run on a 5- or 15-minute schedule from 6:00 a.m. until midnight, every day of the week. The "Free Ride," as it's called by Summit County, Colorado, is extremely convenient, it minimizes the number of cars on the road (sound for the environment and congestion-wise), and it is really, truly FREE! All you do is get on and get off. We traveled through the mountains from a station in Breckenridge to Frisco to Silverthorne to Keystone on public transport in less than 40 minutes, free! When we needed a ride back, and needed some further info, there was a phone system handling individual calls, making sure every person that asked got the ride he or she wanted or needed--our minibus driver even took us off his route just to be sure we got to the right station before the next bus showed up (in 10 minutes). Wow! It was shocking how the ease and cost of this system (to the individual rider) compares to the inflexible leviathan we know as Lincoln's public transport system. I've used Lincoln's buses frequently, but because of the limited number of buses actually running at any given time, the limited hours of operation, and the ever-rising cost to ride, against the wishes of my better self I generally rely on my car. I don't know how the funding is provided for the Free Ride in Summit, but it would be worthwhile to think of downtown's "to and from" problem as more than simply a matter of parking. Can we, as a forward-thinking city, think forward to fewer cars on the road rather than viewing the problem as only how to fix sysmptoms (parking and traffic flow)? I think we can!

Thank you for allowing me to offer input.
Ann Baker

I don't believe you can "force" Downtown Lincoln to conform to any one group's ideal vision. (We saw that with attempted conversion of "P" Street to two-way traffic.) The days of retail are gone, no matter how much we might wish they were back. This is a business district, yet no one seems to focus on this aspect.

Without the thousands(?) of employees who travel to the city center to work, Downtown would be dead. So how do we welcome Downtown employees? With the Antelope Valley street construction projects, it's almost impossible to find an unobstructed route to work; delivery trucks feel free to park anywhere at anytime; construction projects take priority over access to parking garages; the food courts and fast-food outlets have all but disappeared so lunch options are limited; monthly parking is limited and expensive; and vehicles freely ignore red lights at major intersections - there has never been any traffic enforcement Downtown to my knowledge.

Building a new arena Downtown would simply compound the existing problems of parking and congestion. The recent idea for using the blighted 48th and "O" area is innovative - let's think outside the box on this. We have been trying to attract conventions Downtown for years, and while there are such attractions as theaters and bars, there is no shopping; the Haymarket is just out of walking range; and the few retailers in the Downtown and Haymarket apparently haven't a clue that it might be profitable to stay open at night (witness the shoppers strolling every evening in Omaha's Old Market). It doesn't make sense to keep desperately trying to draw more people to an area that cannot accommodate them.

The growth of residential opportunities has been a great development. My wish would be that we focus on these existing "residents" - both those who live Downtown and those who work here. We need services, groceries and parking, not vast convention centers and skyscrapers that may - but may not - be economically feasible. We know what works; let's for once during one of these studies use some common sense and build on that.
A. Tyler

Retail is needed in downtown Lincoln, and day retail can be vastly different from night retail (look at Church Street Station in Orlando). A block turned into a park would add a much needed R&R space. Consideration should be given into turning Salt Creek into a waterway along which a lighted path for evening strolls; could also include small areas to stop for refreshments. Putting the new Pershing Center between 9th & 10th streets makes perfect sense - easy access & departure necessary for people attending concerts/special events & having downtown hotels offer special rates would entice people to stay over. One of the things people coming to Lincoln for football games miss is retail. More FREE parking with access to downtown should be considered (is Park & Shop still in effect?). Once retail is established close certain blocks between O and ???? streets to auto traffic, turning them into pedestrian traffic only garden areas for relaxing, eating. And more importantly, don't drag your feet in developing downtown.
T. McKinnon

First, I'd like to say that parking has improved in downtown Lincoln, but more is needed, and perhaps spread the parking garages out a bit more, rather than condense. Lincoln has a tendancy to condense its structures. Next, I'd like to say that I think the downtown area is the most logical place for an arena/convention center, or as close to downtown as possible. One possibility is building it next the the new waterway that will be built during the Antelope Valley revitalization project. Doing this would give it a nice appearance, and still be close to downtown. The next thing is, we need to try and make downtown more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. To do this, we either need to tear down or reface sightly buildings in the downtown area. There are many sightly buildings in downtown, and its a huge disappointment that a city our size hasn't done much to improve the appearance. In addition, lets erect some modern looking towers/skyscrapers. I believe Lincoln has an ordinance against building any structure that exceeds the height of the capitol building. While the capitol building is a one of a kind awesome structure, I believe this ordinance is unecessary, and limits our ability to present ourselves as a modern community to the outside. If the ordinance is not allowed to be removed, then at least we can erect a couple of structures that are close to the height of the capitol, but do not exceed. Last, I think the parking meters should have extended times on them without increasing the cost. And more retail would also benefit the area as well.
Dave Oler

  1. The overall plan for the downtown area should include a comprehensive conference center. Topeka Kansas has a good example of what can be done. They converted portions of the old state fair grounds, built a new convention center and hotel, and were able to provide conference facilities with ample parking for over 1000 participants. All facilities were accessible via sky walks in case of bad weather. We see this as a positive option to use existing facilities and space that currently exist.
  2. With the Univesity of Nebraska in the downtown area, we suggest that Lincoln follow the lead of several other college townsin developing a college shopping area. The Haymarket is a step in the right direction, but the area directly adjacent to the University could be developed for the college community, ie; coffee shops, ice cream parlors, unique card shops, clothing boutiques, pizza parlors, etc. Get away from the movie theater/bar mode. We have seen successful areas in Ames, Nashville (near Vanderbilt University), Portland Oregon, just to name a few.
Nancy and Curt Youngman

I work downtown and have for many years. I love the balance that downtown Lincoln maintains between residential, business/retail and service providers. Assuming this balance is maintained or improved, I wouldn't mind living downtown once our children are grown.

I am not sure how the multi-screen cinema project will affect this balance downtown but I worry that it will cause fewer people to walk through areas that now house movie theaters. If that is the case, some sections of downtown may suffer. On the other hand, the recent residential projects completed or planned for the near future bode well for maintaining a dynamic downtown that I find most attractive.

Some of the improvements I consider important to the downtown area all deal with quality-of-life issues and sustaining this balance between business, residential and services.

  • If I had to pick one thing that I would like to address downtown, it would be to provide an atmosphere for pleasant outdoor dining/congregating. Several restaurants and bars downtown have nice areas for patrons to sit outdoors, but the areas are not attractive when so much traffic noise makes it impossible to enjoy. The Haymarket is particularly bad when large trucks travel through the area but the problem is as bad in other downtown areas where there is little buffer between traffic and outdoor sitting areas. I realize that the traffic problem downtown will only get worse when the Antelope Valley project continues in earnest, but the long-term goal should consider the ambiance for outdoor seating.
  • Pedestrian friendly crosswalks. This may have more to do with driver education than anything, although I have heard people with disabilities complain that the walk sign is too short for them to cross the street. It can be dangerous to cross the street in downtown Lincoln and I am cautious about turning cars whenever I cross the street, mostly because I have had a couple of close calls when cars nearly hit me when I was crossing, legally, in a crosswalk.
  • I think it is critical to keep an event center downtown. I recognize the limitations that Pershing Auditorium possesses in today's climate, especially since the Quest Center in Omaha opened. I think Lincoln needs either a much-improved Pershing or a new event center with adequate parking and that center needs to stay downtown.
  • There seem to be some blighted areas downtown that could use some help. We've seen some good examples on Lincoln Mall and around Klein's Grocery but more needs to be done east of downtown.
  • I'm not sure how many bars are too many downtown, but it seems like there are probably enough if not too many right now, considering a new one is opening up soon on the corner of 14th and O streets. A study should consider how many bars are necessary and what types of other businesses or services are needed and create a plan to encourage the type of growth that will sustain a viable and versatile downtown area. With the growth of residential units downtown, a grocery may be one logical candidate, but that should be studied.
  • The study should consider improving Capitol Mall and extending it to the north (filling in the gap between M Street and P Street). At the least, the plan should consider improvements to the mall – which appears to have been neglected by the City at times.
  • The study should consider the amount of parking that is necessary as the residential population grows downtown. While I wish to someday live downtown, I would not do so without adequate protected parking that would be located conveniently to my residence.
  • As road work is plotted downtown, it would be nice to have biking lanes so that motorists and bicyclists can both use the street in a safe manner. These lanes could also be considered throughout the community.
Thank you for your consideration, I regret that I was not able to present my ideas in person. Perhaps I can attend the October public meeting.
Gary Reber

In 1989, as then director of the Lincoln Arts Council, we submitted a Cultural Plan for the City of Lincoln that included a downtown development needs assessment and objectives. We submitted documentation of cities whose dying downtown areas had been revitalized as arts districts. Lincoln's Haymarket area was at that time not considered a part of the downtown development district. It independently developed unique specialty shops, restaurants, and arts offerings that have contributed to its growth. The City (4 or 5 different consultants ago) chose to ignore our suggestions despite the existing arts offerings by the Lied Center, the University venues, and the downtown movie theatres. Our surveys showed that potential shoppers in the downtown area were thwarted by what few merchants remained not opening their stores at hours convenient for downtown employees to shop. Surveys also revealed that parking was indeed an issue, even though the city administration would not allow that wording to appear in the documents of the Downtown Community Congress.

I respectfully submit that some of these issues might be revisited and the Lincoln Arts Council's Cultural Plan as developed by Arts Market Consulting could serve as support for addressing the viability of a designating downtown as an arts and culture center for the city.
Kay Thompson

I would encourage a look at ways to make downtown more livable and actually inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists. One Robert Woods Johnson staffer who works on supporting walkable communities uses the terms "pedestrian seductive." In order to do that, we need to look at mixed use development, making connections for pedestrians and other forms of mass transportation, cleaning up the sidewalks, creating interest for sidewalks with landscaping and art, shopping options, parks and destinations for persons living, working and visiting in the area. Consider ways to make the area "greener" with landscaping, gardens and the like. It is exciting to see that Lincoln is engaged in this process and encouraging that we continue to work to make this community more livable.
Barbara Fraser

Better parking. Longer meter times.
Teresa Meier

Lincoln needs a well designed, and speedy and affordable mass transit system. Having one would make the need for cars an option rather than a necessity. Not all of Lincoln is served by adequate mass transit. I would prefer to use the bus to go to work… but the 2 hour one way, wait/commute time is not what I want to add to my day. I am forced to use my car and just take half an hour to get to work.

An Arena built in the Downtown area would only make sense if there were the mass transit system to support it. Progressive communities are trying to limit smog, pollution and gridlock, with park and ride systems. I watched thousands of commuters in San Francisco; get off the Muni system for a ball game. No parking problems for them, and the ride was fast and inexpensive. They parked in outlying lots and rode in to the massive event. We could do likewise.

Building an event center in Downtown Lincoln is one way to bring in people. But there isn't enough parking or good traffic flow to support it. Perhaps land west of the Downtown. North of West O, and Sunvalley Rd. Using the parking provided there to support the events in Downtown and the University areas. It is near the interstate, and the Downtown. Again Shuttle busses would be needed and if used on a daily basis, would support the Downtown development with a park and ride concept.

Lincoln claims to be a community that values diversity. I see much to support the Ethnic diversity, but the economic diversity is lacking. There is no housing for the lower income families. Many are forced by the economic conditions to live 2 or 3 families in the expensive rental apartments or rental homes. Affordable housing for all is a necessity we cannot overlook. Having that diversity built in to the housing developments in Lincoln would keep economic as well as ethnic diversity and healthy neighborhoods.
Eva Blankenbiller

We've got to have less bars and porn shops before we'll ever have a reputable downtown. Also, if the vision of downtown reaches to 48th Street, the intersection of 48th and O desperately needs improvement. The major intersection in the center of the city, seen by thousands daily, gives the impression of infirmity and demise.

I'm glad this is on our radar screen. I prefer to stay in Lincoln, but I'm embarrassed by its downtown appearance.
Mark Bartels

I believe one thing downtown Lincoln could use is a freeway or expressway connecting downtown Lincoln to southeast and northeast parts of town. Downtown currently has I-180 connecting far north Lincoln to downtown but coming from south/southeast parts of town can be very frustrating. Also, northeast part of town's only way of fast travel downtown is to take Cornhusker to I-180 which often times Cornhusker has many traffic problems by itself.
Clint Curry

I'm currently living in Beijing, China right now and will be stuck here teaching English (or imperfect English, it's not my high point :p ) until I can get my wife to Lincoln (around a year from now). I've lived in Lincoln all my life and I plan on living there for the rest of my life. What I think Downtown needs are larger, modern looking buildings. Restore and protect the old ones, but tear down the new buildings that are abandoned or just an eye-sore in Downtown, and build, glassy-modern big buildings... not stupid small buildings like the new Douglas entertainment center. Those type of buildings take up space and are redundant. What the city should have done was build office space above the entertainment theater... maybe nine stories worth of alterable, movable spaces. A parking garage beneath the theater would have been useful, too. Here in Beijing, Beijing earlier but through time has run into the same problem that Lincoln in encountering... lack of parking, lack of space, lack of space to grow... and today they have come up with solutions similar to this.

As for transportation, bike lanes are a must. Take away a little curb space and build a 2 foot wide bike lane. If Lincoln was compared to Beijing on total amount of resources dedicated to bicycles, Beijing would outpace Lincoln by 100 times. People in the U.S. worry about bicycle lanes on city streets. What would happen if a car ran into a bicycle if making a right turn, etc??? Actually, the opposite is true... cars pay more attention to bikes on the street than on, say perhaps, a bicycle trail beside the road. This is because bicycles are within the line of sight of cars, instead of being off the side and sometimes hidden from sight. Further, bicycles are usually slower than cars, so a driver can judge where a bicycle will be when making a right turn, etc. Beijing even provides a seperate stoplight on the stoplight pole for bicycles (the light actually a red, yellow, and green bicycle). Email me, and I can take some pictures if you'd like. A driver MUST respect a bicycler on the road, though.

I'd also like to suggest a different stoplight signal scheme than Lincoln has. Here in Beijing, before a light turns yellow from green, it blinks about two times, giving a driver enough time to prepare for the upcoming yellow. I remember an article in the Journal Star about some out of town people asking why the yellow lights in Lincoln are so long. I know why, it's because people never slow down and stop for them! This could help stop people from running red lights or getting stuck in an intersection before a red light.

Another thing: Before a red light turns green here, the yellow comes on for about three seconds (along with the red) to give drivers and bikers warning that the light will be turning green. This happens ONLY after the cross-traffic's light has turned red. This is beneficial because it doesn't give drivers a straight green to slam on the accelerator and go for it. Too many accidents happen when people begin on a green into an intersection, and someone from the cross-traffic run the red light. The red & yellow (before the green) is a reminder to drivers and bicyclists that they may begin into the intersection only AFTER the other cars have stopped on the cross street (in other words, look both ways before beginning, don't just go). It also allows people to get ready for the green instead of it being a surprise (including the daydreams), and this keeps traffic flowing while keeping it safe. It seems to work in Beijing nicely... I haven't seen any accidents at intersections during my whole three months here in Beijing... why are there so many in Lincoln???

And shuttle transportation. Downtown Lincoln should look towards the cheapest mode available... or maybe towards it's past. Gasoline-powered busses (or gasoline-anything for that fact) cost too much to run anymore. Lincoln has one of the lowest electricity rates in the country. Try looking at electric trolleys or busses instead of gasoline powered busses (electric powered by means of overhead powerlines. these may be unsightly, but if constructed in a creative/artistic way, they could actually look kind of cool ^^p ). Lincoln had this at one time before General Motors came in with their new line of gas-a-holic chugging busses. Electric trolleys/busses also cut car emissions from streets... because they're electric, not smoke stacks! How many times has anyone seen the big, black clouds left behind by a city bus in Downtown Lincoln? It doesn't smell good, either. Even LPD is trying electric/gas hybrids downtown to cut down on the smog their parking patrol cars put out. Beijing is slowly going away from this idea because electricity here is at a minimum. In Lincoln, it's not. And wow, are those electric busses quiet, too! Quiet Downtown streets, clean downtown streets, a cheaper system to run, what more could one ask for?

Well, that's my two cents worth from here in Beijing. Good Luck Lincoln as I miss you in the next year or more.

Until then,
Eric Bigham