02 February 2013

Dundee Changes to Enhance Bird Watching Setting

Pending changes in central Dundee will include features conducive to loitering and listening to Common Nighthawks in the summer-time skies, or to watch the evening antics of gathering Chimney Swifts.

At the corner of 50th Street and Underwood Avenue, will be an new plaza, with trees, benches and more distinctly, no southern driveway into the adjacent parking lot. It looks to be a great place to linger.

A completely new green feature nearby at the corner is a rain-garden of approximately 600 square feet, planted to native species such as false indigo, coneflower, hosta, daylily, rose and salvia. The flora might provide a seasonal haunt for a migratory sparrow or two, or maybe some juncos in the winter.

Trees to be prominently planted, at the plaza and along the streets, include maple, hornbeam, ginko, hackberry, honeylocust, crabapple, oak and frontier elm.

A a barrier of brick-and-mortar pedestals and wrought-iron fencing will be built on the north side of the plaza, and intermittently continue a half-block distance northward along 50th Street, masking the parking lot.

Several small vegetated spaces shown in project plans would be flower-beds or otherwise a place for greenery.

The project intent is to improve the central Dundee business district.

Obviously missing in the mix, is suitable improvement for the "KFAB" building parking lot. It is a big slab of hard surface. The primary change indicated here is a brick retaining wall along the sidewalk, and, a flower-bed along its way.

Current setting for the site of a future plaza. February 2nd, 2013.

The ugly setting of the KFAB building parking lot. February 2nd, 2013.

There certainly could be more trees, especially coniferous species, to mask the large lot, the boring facade of the west side of the building and the prominent, metallic, rooftop communication structures. Even a single tree at the southwest corner, and a couple near the south entryway would make things less obtrusive.

The building and lot are leased by Clear Channel media and entertainment, according to company staff, as expressed during a Friday afternoon visit of inquiry.

Some of these same considerations apply to the former "C-Mart" parcel just to the west. The business is gone, so perhaps the building could be razed, a mini-park created on the Underwood Avenue side, with parking towards the north?

The "streetscape improvement" area extends primarily along Underwood Avenue from about a half-block east of 49th Street, and to 51st Street. Some improvements will also occur a short distance north and south along 50th Street.

Final details for the plans were presented by planners, city officials and others the evening of January 31, 2013. More than 60 people attended this meeting at the Omaha Neighborhood Center.

Streetscape meeting, January 31st.

The finalized plan is a "basic design," focused upon improvements to the public right-of-way, according to officials at the meeting, and addresses the "top six" features as developed through public meetings and community interest. Numerous bike racks will appropriately placed, they also indicated.

A "business improvement district" has been established among the Dundee merchants to provide funds for upkeep and maintenance.

Project construction cost is $1.9 million, with 70% being paid by private donations, along with funds from the City of Omaha, grants and the Metropolitan Utilities District, in conjunction with their construction of a new water main. More than $300,000 will be paid to Snyder and Associates for planning and other contracted services, which came from City of Omaha bond dollars, according to the project manager.

Work will be done this year. Details of features and construction are expected to be made available at the Moving Omaha website, where images of the proposed work are available.

Pending streetscape for the KFAB building parking lot. Both images have been cropped to feature details of special interest.

Overhead view of the Underwood Avenue and 50th Street intersection. The plaza and raingarden are at the northwest corner.