BEATRICE – With the housing supply tight in many areas of Nebraska, a southeast Nebraska city is studying a way to transform a couple of areas into new neighborhoods.  The City of Beatrice held a public open house Monday on the concepts of turning the soon-to-be unused Lincoln and Paddock Lane Elementary school properties into new residential areas.

"We wanted to have a solid plan in place, before we took them over. At first blush, we've had very positive feedback on the plans we debuted back at a work session in June."

Beatrice Mayor Bob Morgan, city administration and the city council have been working with a consulting firm that has presented concepts for the development of single family and duplex units that could add significantly to the city’s available housing stock.  "In think, number one, it looks more like a planned community and building a neighborhood, rather than just rows and rows of houses. Number two, we took in safety when it comes to how we laid out the streets, making sure we didn't have driveways coming off Lincoln Street, which is a busy street. We've kept the traffic kind of in a cul-de-sac method, that should create a safer neighborhood for all."

From the open house held at the Beatrice Public Library, the city and consulting firm will compile and analyze the public input given during the 4:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m. event.

Morgan said the low supply of housing is a real issue for the community.  "I think it's the lowest I've seen in the twenty-some years that I've lived here. Particularly, when my wife and I were looking for homes...I don't remember a time when there was only a few to choose from. Covid upset the whole apple cart in the real estate market. That's why we're down to only five or ten homes...and it's not just here."

Having more homes to purchase, Morgan says, will help the community grow. As employers look to hire, the shortage of housing is something affecting many Nebraska communities, forcing many employees to commute….not live in a community where they work.