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My name is Herb Freeman and I’m a developer. That’s the abbreviated version but the story behind What’s Happening on State Street takes a little more telling.

I was born in Omaha and have been in the real estate business here since 1972. I was majority shareholder and CEO of CBS Real Estate Company in 1998 when the firm was sold, and following that, I was a co-founder and former partner of Cormac Company, a commercial real estate development and brokerage company. I’m currently Chief Operations Officer of NP Dodge Real Estate Sales, Inc.

I’ve been involved in developing a number of the area’s conventional residential subdivisions including Hawthorne at 180th and Q Streets, Plum Creek and Crystal Creek in Gretna, Nebraska, and the mixed-use projects at Legacy between 168th and 180th along West Center Road and Greyhawk at 144th and West Maple Road.

The project at 168th and State Streets is quite literally in my front yard. And my back yard too, for I live right in the middle of the 160-acre project. The property, which I and my deceased wife, Maggie, bought in 1992 and upon which we built our home, is now completely surrounded by land that is developed, being developed or is held for development.

Knowing that the time had come to consider the future of my land, I researched Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) and traveled to a number of the country’s best examples of new traditional neighborhoods. These are the places designed around the enduring principles of our best-loved, historic traditional neighborhoods. These are the places with a real sense of community, where every basic need does not require an automobile trip to somewhere else, and where people actually get to know each other. Convinced by what I saw that such places offer so many compelling advantages not found in conventional subdivisions, I resolved to create the Omaha area’s first new traditional neighborhood, a place that people will truly love.

The form this new traditional neighborhood will take will unfold during the design charrette from September 5th through September 9th, 2006. A group of talented architects, urban designers and planning professionals from around the country form the PlaceMakers’ team and they will design the neighborhood. See www.placemakers.com. Many people from the wider community will add their insights, ideas and visions to the creative process. All of this will be guided by the enduring patterns of character and function that create the rich benefits of the well-conceived place.

And you too can contribute. As the design effort progresses, this website will be updated throughout each day with all the latest drawings, pictures, renderings, photographs and articles. You may check in frequently to see what is happening as the creative process unfolds, to share your own ideas for the project, to give feedback on the design as it takes shape, to get more detailed information about the project and to see the resumes of the creative team.

The result, I sincerely hope, will not only be the first “New Traditional Neighborhood” for Omaha. It will be a place as enduring as this city we love.

-- Herb Freeman, Founder