A dilapidated building on North 24th Street will enter its second act after renovations turned the space into a theater.
The $6.4 million project is on track to move forward after the Omaha City Council approved $354,672 in tax hike funding on Tuesday.
The planned renovations will expand the Union for Contemporary Art’s performing arts program and breathe new life into a building that has served the North Omaha community for more than 100 years.
As part of the proposal presented to City Council, the 4,392 square foot building near 24th Street and Willis Avenue will be renovated for use as a black box theater – a simple, open space with walls, black floor and ceiling.
The theater will be named after Shirley Tyree, who served on the Omaha Public Schools Board for 20 years.
In his spare time, Tyree enjoyed singing and performing in community theater. She died of blood cancer in January 2021 at the age of 82.
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The plans call for the building to be equipped with a theatre, a hall, a ticket office, a scenography workshop and a rehearsal or gathering space. Officials plan to add approximately 4,300 square feet to the east end of the existing building.
The Union for Contemporary Art has a theater at its main location, which is nearby. But with capacity limited to 40 people, many potential spectators are turned away. The new theater could accommodate 90 to 100 people.
The Union Performing Arts Program has been producing live theater in North Omaha since 2016.
“We are excited to be able to provide more of these opportunities not only to our emerging artists here in Omaha, but also to all of our seasoned artists who may have been overlooked by larger institutions in the past,” said Denise Chapman. , artistic director of the Union.
Council member Juanita Johnson, whose district includes the new theater, said she was happy to see the project moving forward.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be economic value for North Omaha and Omaha as a whole,” Johnson said.
The building that will soon house the theater dates from 1914 and was recently used as a kindergarten. The premises have been vacant for over three years. It will need to be treated for mold, lead paint and asbestos.
Union will lease the building, which is owned by RH Land Management, for more than 20 years.
Through the TIF allowance, the developer of a city-approved project takes out a loan to help cover eligible redevelopment expenses. The loan is repaid, usually over a period of 15 or 20 years, using the increased property taxes generated by the new development.
All property taxes collected on the improved property begin to be disbursed to these local governments after repayment of the TIF loan.
Officials hope to complete construction by summer 2023.
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