May 6, 2022 Communities

All About The RiverFront Project in Downtown Omaha

The mighty Missouri River flows along the eastern edge of Omaha, forming a natural border between Nebraska and Iowa — and a beautiful backdrop for hiking, walking, biking, boating and more. In order to increase access to this wonderful resource, community leaders, government officials and local stakeholders are teaming up to better connect the people of Omaha with the river.

A massive $300 million revitalization project is currently underway, encompassing three riverfront parks: Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park, and Lewis & Clark Landing, which will be collectively referred to as The RiverFront.

Project Overview

Each of the three parks is in the process of undergoing a major renovation and will include a long list of amenities for both residents and visitors to enjoy, including gardens, event plazas, a promenade, sports courts, playgrounds, an urban beach, water features, dog parks, and much more. Plus, The RiverFront will host a variety of special events on a daily, weekly and monthly basis throughout the year, plus marquee events drawing large crowds to the area. Each of the parks will be seamlessly connected to one another, all leading to the Missouri River, with more amenities there, like an urban beach and a riverfront promenade, to help park goers experience the river to the fullest.

Construction on Gene Leahy Mall is almost complete, with a grand reopening scheduled for this summer, while the other two parks are expected to reopen in 2023. The Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) is managing the construction, redevelopment and transformation of the project in collaboration with the City of Omaha and Downtown Riverfront Trust. And after the project is complete, MECA will oversee all maintenance, operations and activation of the parks.

 

Gene Leahy Mall

Gene Leahy Mall The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Gene Leahy Mall The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Gene Leahy Mall The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Photos Courtesy of OJB Landscape Architecture

Gene Leahy Mall enjoys a central location in the heart of the city, providing convenient access for out-of-town guests and downtown workers alike. The 14.5-acre newly reimagined park has been raised to street level, which added more than 40,000 square feet of lawn space. Plus, Gene Leahy Mall is packed with incredible amenities, including a performance pavilion, a state-of-the-art playground, interactive water features, a sculpture garden, a slide terrace, a dog park, an art plaza, event lawns, overlook gardens, and much more.

Gene Leahy Mall is the first of the three parks to reopen, with the Grand Opening scheduled for July 1, 2022! Follow The RiverFront on Facebook for more information as their reopening weekend gets closer.

See the map and plans for Gene Leahy Mall here.

 

Heartland of America Park

Heartland of America Park The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Heartland of America Park The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Heartland of America Park The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Photos Courtesy of OJB Landscape Architecture

The largest of the three parks, the 21.8-acre Heartland of America Park is situated directly along the Missouri River. Since the early 1990s, this beloved park has been frequented for its 10.7-acre lake and fountain, which will remain — with even more surrounding amenities. Additions to Heartland of America Park will include a skate ribbon, bocce courts, a lakeside amphitheater, a lounge garden and prairie gardens, an extensive event lawn, additional play areas, and more. A long tree-lined promenade runs the length of the park, leading to a picturesque pier that overlooks the river. Amenities are currently under construction and the park is scheduled to reopen sometime in 2023 (subject to change).

See the map and plans for Heartland of America Park here.

 

Lewis & Clark Landing

Lewis & Clark Landing The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Lewis & Clark Landing The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Lewis & Clark Landing The Riverfront Omaha, NE
Photos Courtesy of OJB Landscape Architecture

Just north of Heartland of America Park and south of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, Lewis & Clark Landing provides the easiest access to the river. The riverside trail system will remain, with a number of new features to enhance the park, including a destination children’s playground, a skate park, a recreation lawn, volleyball courts, a large event plaza, a renovated marina, and an urban beach. Lewis & Clark Landing is set to reopen in 2023 (subject to change).

See the map and plans for Lewis & Clark Landing here.

 

Sustainability

Sustainability The RiverFront Omaha, NE
Photo Courtesy of OJB Landscape Architecture

Sustainability is at the heart of this entire project, as the developers made an intentional effort to incorporate native grasses, flower gardens to attract local wildlife and pollinators, and beautiful trees throughout. Their efforts were rewarded! The RiverFront project is the first in the state of Nebraska to earn an Envision® award for sustainability — and they even earned a Platinum sustainability rating! One of the most significant aspects of the project is the preservation of undeveloped land, as 100% of the redevelopment is located on previously developed land. To learn more about the project’s sustainability practices, check out this feature from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

 

A Bright Future for Downtown Omaha

The RiverFront will bring even more amenities and features (not to mention, plenty of green space) to downtown Omaha — giving us one more reason to love our ever-evolving city. We are eagerly anticipating the reopening of each of the three parks — starting with the grand reopening of Gene Leahy Mall this summer!

May 6, 2022 Communities
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