curb appeal on ames avenue

The broken window theory asserts that neglect accelerates deterioration faster than any other factor.

The block’s deteriorated sidewalk was replaced in mid-June.

The Block 46 Project

Change is happening on Ames Avenue in the Benson-Ames Alliance: construction is under way on a new Walmart store at 50th and Ames, the NorthStar Foundation is building a new after school center on land leased from the Omaha Home for Boys, and the city’s parks department is making a number of improvements to Fontenelle Park, including the recent completion of a new walking trail.

Curb Appeal on Ames Avenue: The Block 46 Project is focused on rehabilitating the front facades and front yards of a block of single family homes on Ames Avenue between 46th and 48th streets. The goal is to help create a healthier, more stable environment for residents of the area.

In February of 2013, the block’s property owners and residents were invited to a launch event to determine their interest in participating in the project. Block 46 is currently home to 13 properties. Of the 13, two have been condemned by the City of Omaha. Bids for their demolition were accepted in May of 2013. Of the remaining properties, five owners have signed up to participate as of July 1, 2013.

The first step in the project is conducting an assessment of the participating properties. Each assessment results in a recommended project task list for the home and front yard. Tasks may range from painting exteriors and trimming trees to repairing gutters and adding sustainable landscaping. The participants also will be asked to work together to decide upon a unifying design feature to include on their properties.

In mid-June of 2013, the entire block’s deteriorated sidewalk was torn out and replaced. As of July 1, 2013, assessments have been conducted for the first five participants.

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting lead-safe and healthy housing for children and families in Omaha, is offering a free healthy home review to participants in The Block 46 Project. Its trained healthy home specialists are able to triage potential health and safety hazards.

In addition to the individual property work, Omaha by Design is researching the possibility of establishing a Little Free Library near the Metro bus stop at the corner of 48th and Ames. Little Free Libraries are small boxes used for housing books in a public space so they can be shared freely. The library is then maintained by a volunteer steward from the area where it’s located.

The project is supported by a lead grant from the Adah and Leon Millard Foundation, and additional funds are currently sought. To donate or for more information, contact Omaha by Design at 402.934.7055.

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