Investments Worth $29 Million Target Ralston Hinge District


Concept art by HDR showing the plan for the Hinge project in Ralston, which seeks to connect the city’s 72nd Street corridor by the arena with its downtown district. (Courtesy City of Ralston)
By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

Ralston will launch a business accelerator with hopes that it in turn revitalizes the corridor leading to the city’s downtown district.

Officials announced $29 million in investments in the city’s Hinge Redevelopment Area by I See It Ventures, Opportunity Zone Investors and the city government.

The largest portion, $14 million from Omaha entrepreneur Gordon Whitten’s I See It Ventures, launches a business accelerator in the historic Ralston Granary, with a showroom for Lincoln-based Out of the Box, which sells high-end recycled and reclaimed furniture, cabinetry, lighting and building products.

“The accelerator is how the Granary project and the larger Hinge project will create new jobs in Ralston,” Whitten said in a news release. “We have already hired eight people and have a goal of creating 10 new businesses with 100 new jobs.”

The business accelerator will commit $2 million to a program to  support up-and-coming companies with venture capital investment, guidance and support, according to I See It Ventures.

Whitten added that his venture plans to spend another $10 million in the Hinge area at a later date.

In addition, an outdoor gathering space – dubbed the Granary Green – would provide a space for community events and also serve as a public park.

Zehv’s Place, an apartment project on a former city parking lot downtown, is expected to invest another $5.1 million in the area. City officials say they will spend $2.5 million from the estate of LaDonna Johnson, who bequeathed $7.5 million toward developing the area around 72nd and Main streets, which connects the city’s downtown to the Ralston Arena.

Jody Strauch, who co-owns Out of the Box with her husband Steen Lundberg, praised the Hinge project.

 “The Hinge is an ‘open for business’ sign to the rest of the metro, demonstrating this community’s commitment to attract private sector investment and grow the economy,” Strauch said in a release.

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