Neighbors opposed to plans to develop the shuttered Sunset Valley golf course say a donor is waiting in the wings to buy the property and keep it as green space.
But a top official at NP Dodge, which owns the land at 93rd and Arbor Streets, said the company couldn’t come to a purchase agreement with potential buyers.
A showdown is expected at City Hall on Tuesday over NP Dodge’s plans to build houses and apartments on the golf course land.
The Omaha City Council is set to hold a public hearing and vote on a preliminary plat and change to the city’s master plan to allow the proposed Arbor Woods subdivision to be built.
The golf club’s members selected NP Dodge to develop the area after voting to dissolve the club.
Neighbors who oppose the plan worry that the development will diminish the area’s green space and increase traffic through the nearby Sunset Hills neighborhood.
They also question whether the city can OK the developer’s plans to build on the flood plain of the Big Papio Creek.
Sheila Karpf, one of the leaders of the opposition, said opponents hope to get 175 people to the council meeting. The group held a “Save Sunset Hills” rally Monday that drew about 16 adults, plus a few children and dogs, near Sunset Hills Elementary School.
“We’re asking (the council) for a delay, at minimum,” Karpf said.
Karpf said the anonymous donor interested in buying the property shares “the same vision” as neighbors who oppose NP Dodge’s plans. The neighbors envision a park with community gardens and a barrier-free playground.
NP Dodge’s proposal calls for 37 houses and 210 apartments. Much of the area would remain green space, with trails that connect to the nearby school and the Old Mill area.
The single-family lots would be listed for between $80,000 and $125,000. The market-rate apartments would cost $950 monthly for single bedrooms and about $1,300 for two bedrooms.
Nate Dodge, president of NP Dodge, said the company had a few conversations about selling. It wanted the amount it paid for the property plus costs for the work done on the planned development.
NP Dodge purchased the 46-acre property for $1.35 million, according to the Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds Office.
If the new owner decided to pursue development, NP Dodge wanted the option, for at least 35 years, to buy back the property for what it sold it. Buyers wouldn’t go for that. So conversations about another sale are off the table for now.
“That’s in my rearview mirror,” Dodge said, noting there’s already “huge” waiting lists for the lots and apartments.
Opponent Rich Onken said his main concerns are increased traffic in the neighborhood and flooding downstream. And he said the city hasn’t answered his questions, except about a stormwater runoff issue.
“We’re treated like we’re the kids that just don’t get it in the class, but maybe we’re the people that are the conscience of the city,” Onken said. “Maybe we’re the ones that are protecting the city.”
City Planning Director Dave Fanslau did not respond to messages for comment.
John Winkler, general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, said he understands the neighbors’ concerns, but he said that the project doesn’t raise any red flags.
City Councilman Brinker Harding, who represents the area, said he has met with several residents but hasn’t made a decision about what action he would take. The project would still need its final plat approved.
“I want to hear what is said and presented on Tuesday before any final decisions are made,” he said.
NP Dodge has not applied for any tax-increment financing funding for the project.
Dodge, who lives a handful of blocks away from the project, said his company cares about the area.
“I love this neighborhood,” he said. “This is a great place to live. I think we can create kind of a cool place for people to be.”