By: Bill Schammert
Downtown Lincoln is changing, and as one of the centerpieces, 13th and P Streets is no different.
The northeast corner used to be Douglas Theatres, now it's a parking lot, but soon it'll be the Civic Plaza.
"The intent is for this to be a place where people stop, have coffee, have sandwiches, there could be a variety of activities like music and art," Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director, Lynn Johnson, said.
Johnson likened 13th and P Streets to the living room of downtown.
"Every great retail corridor has a wonderful place for people to gather, kind of that living room space."
At a city council public hearing on Monday, officials hears about the plan for a sidewalk cafe inside the Civic Plaza, connected to Bison Witches.
In total, Johnson says the Plaza is roughly a $3.3 million project, but about $100 thousand of that would pay for the reconstruction of the west facing wall of the building at 1320 P Street.
It would also pay for a portion of the addition of a canopy, overhanging Bison Witches roughly 800-square-foot sidewalk cafe.
It's a public-private partnership. About another $90 thousand would come from the building's owner, Monte Froehlich.
He calls it a win-win for him and the city.
"Bison Witches has been a great tenant, they want to stay and they're very popular. Plus, the city gets a permanent easement on the wall. That's important to make sure the backstop for the plaza remains in good condition," Froehlich said.
Johnson says the city will see a return in its investment.
"We're envisioning future sales, future sales tax and this will come back and help the community," he said.
The city's portion of the private-public partnership will come solely from extra Keno dollars.
The rest of the Civic Plaza will be paid for from endowments, donations, and tax increment financing.
The council is expected to vote on the issue later this month. If everything passes, construction would likely be done by April 2014.