Building a community within a community...
75 North was founded in 2011 with one purpose: to facilitate creating healthy, sustainable, mixed-income communities in the Highlander neighborhood. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty and community deterioration by building thriving schools, recreational facilities, and other amenities to attract new public and private investment to the area. We believe that the Highlander neighborhood can, will – and must – flourish.
Led by Othello Meadows, a native of North Omaha, 75 North is a made up of committed board members, developers, ambassadors, and community members who want to make a difference in Omaha. Together, we are breaking new ground and building healthy communities.
How it all began
For more than a decade numerous surveys, studies, meetings and other community engagement activities have been conducted with members of the Omaha community. This extensive research provided a fairly comprehensive understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that exist in Omaha’s north side.
While a lot of great research, ideas and intentions surfaced through these studies, no concerted action had yet been taken. Meanwhile, neighborhoods were continuing to deteriorate; neighbors were becoming disillusioned; Omaha was missing out on what could be. And no organization existed with the sole purpose of implementing these findings and strategies.
We felt that a single-mindedness of mission was critical to the success of any redevelopment effort in North Omaha. Given the stubborn nature of generational poverty and neighborhood decline, this project couldn’t be an offshoot of an existing organization designed to serve a variety of needs. This project had to be the reason the organization existed in the first place.
And so, 75 North was born. Borrowing heavily from the model pioneered by Purpose Built Communities, we created a nonprofit – yes, a 501(c)(3) – as an entity to drive the redevelopment of the Highlander neighborhood on the near north side of Omaha, Nebraska.
Why the Highlander neighborhood?
The Highlander neighborhood was an easy choice as the first redevelopment project for 75N. Located approximately eight blocks north of Alegent Creighton Medical Center, it is well positioned for redevelopment for several reasons.
The 2009 demolition of Pleasantview Homes – a 300-unity public housing project in the Highlander neighborhood – opened up 23 acres of contiguous land less than a mile from downtown Omaha and its emerging midtown area. It was a unique real estate opportunity with the potential for enormous community impact.
The community surrounding Pleasantview homes had begun to deteriorate leaving wide swaths of vacant land and condemned homes in the Highlander neighborhood. As disconcerting as these conditions were, they also represented opportunity. It meant the decaying housing and vacant lots surrounding Pleasantview could be acquired at reasonable prices, which would allow for development to take place at a greater scale. By the end of 2012, 75 North owned 36 acres of contiguous land and an additional 55 lots surrounding the former Pleasantview site.
Long standing community stakeholders have been in this neighborhood for years, doing the type of work that could only buttress the efforts of 75 North. Strong partners and neighbors such as such as the Urban League of Nebraska, Charles Drew Health Center, and Salem Baptist Church meant the project would have a much greater chance of achieving long-term success.
Highway 75 provides quick and convenient access to major highways, downtown and the airport. And it became the inspiration for our name.
Othello H. Meadows III is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and currently serves as Executive Director of Seventy Five North Revitalization Corp., a community revitalization and development organization. Prior to this position, Mr. Meadows was Executive Director of the Omaha Workforce Collaborative, a non-profit housed at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, designed to restructure the workforce development efforts of the Omaha metropolitan area. Meadows returned home after nearly 15 years in order to run a non-partisan voter registration drive that registered over 10,000 new voters in eastern Omaha prior to the 2008 presidential election.
Before returning to Omaha, Meadows operated his own law firm, Othello H. Meadows, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia where his practice focused on criminal defense, family law, and general civil litigation. Mr. Meadows attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina on a basketball scholarship and earned his BA in Psychology in 1997. He later received his Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 2004.
Senior Project Manager
An Omaha native, Cydney Franklin has managed community and economic development programs for more than 8 years. Prior to this position, Franklin worked for 3.5 years as an economic development manager with the Greater Omaha Chamber. There she aided in the development and expansion of regional businesses through the utilization of local and state-wide economic development incentives.
After gaining experience working in government affairs and public policy while in graduate school in San Jose, California, interning as a research analyst on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and serving as a community relations aide to a Northern Virginia County Supervisor, Franklin moved back home to Omaha in 2011 to work for the Greater Omaha Chamber.
Franklin is a graduate of Leadership Omaha’s 37th class, a 2014 Midland’s Business Journal 40 Under 40 Recipient and a member of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association. She sits on the Urban League of Nebraska’s Board of Directors and is a member and past president of the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals. She is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri with a degree in Corporate Communication and San Jose State University with a degree in Public Administration and Public Policy.