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Mayor's Office

2008 Media Releases

June 30, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Jon Carlson – Stronger, Safer Neighborhoods, 441-7224, fax 441-7010

South Capitol Mall District said “poised to be next”

Citing a “family-friendly vibe” and block after block of beautiful historic houses, “This Old House” magazine has listed Lincoln’s Near South Neighborhood as one of the best places to buy an older house in the Midwest.

The print magazine and its online version are part of the “This Old House” TV family made famous by the weekly restoration program shown across the nation on PBS. The show, also seen on HGTV, highlights the trials and joys of bringing America’s treasure trove of historic houses back to life.

Near South Neighborhood President Scott Baird said the neighborhood was delighted with the announcement. “Since 1972, the Near South Neighborhood Association has worked to preserve these landmark homes,” he said. “It’s an honor to have those efforts acknowledged, not only for those families that currently enjoy the neighborhood, but also for those who have worked so hard over the last four decades.”

About half of the Near South neighborhood, including two historic landmark districts, has already seen a wave of purchase and restoration. Jon Carlson, Mayoral Aide for the Stronger, Safer Neighborhoods Initiative, said the Mount Emerald district is an extremely desirable area and homes there sell quickly. Across the street from that district is the South Capitol Mall district of the Near South neighborhood, which surrounds a six-block long boulevard named after the State Capitol architect, Bertram Goodhue.

“The South Capitol Mall district is a sleeping beauty,” said Carlson. “Century old houses and mature oak trees line the boulevard. On the north end is the restored Governor’s Mansion, McPhee Elementary and the beautiful State Capitol. A variety of styles and sizes of well-built but time-worn homes are available for purchase and restoration throughout the district.”

City Historic Preservation Planner Ed Zimmer said the wide variety of sizes, dates and architectural styles of homes in the Near South is one of the strengths of the neighborhood “There is so much to choose from in Near South, and so much to see – I’m still discovering new gems whenever I walk through the neighborhood,” he said. Zimmer also pointed out that the Nebraska Valuation Incentive Program is a real benefit to revitalizing historic areas. The program encourages high-quality renovation by freezing property assessments at a historic home’s pre-rehabilitation valuation for eight to 12 years.

Carlson said the national recognition bolsters the ongoing efforts to revitalize the area, “It’s great that ‘This Old House’ shares how we feel in Lincoln,” he said. “This neighborhood south of the State Capitol is a real diamond in the rough. And we have a history of revitalization across the City. We have seen time and again that great neighborhoods don’t happen by accident. It takes strategic public investment and thoughtful public policy to lay the groundwork for families and businesses to thrive. It will happen here.”

“This Old House” also included Near South in its national list of “Best Bargains” and “Best Fixer-Uppers” and stated that the South Capitol Mall District of the Near South Neighborhood was “poised to be the next revival.”

Greg McCown, a Near South homeowner and REALTOR, said the housing market is still strong for the “Heart of Lincoln” neighborhoods. “These historic homes are real bargains,” he said. “You’d pay twice the price for this kind of square footage for a new house and still not have the leaded windows, wide oak trim or fireplaces you find in the South Capitol Mall district of Near South.”

Near South also made the magazine’s list of “Family Friendly” neighborhoods, with such amenities as the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, the Sunken Gardens, and Antelope Park all within easy walking distance.

Cathy Beecham said that parks and playgrounds were a big factor in her family’s decision to buy a house in the Near South. “My husband Andy and I love to take our girls out for walks in the neighborhood and to the park,” she said. “Whether we’re going to the grocery, antique stores, bakery or coffee shops, you can’t beat the Near South for easy access to everything.”

The magazine’s online article can be found here.

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