In 1951, OHA announced development of the projects on both the east and west sides of North 30th Street extending from Burdette south to Parker Street. Completely demolished in 2010, today the ultra-modern, mixed income Highlander neighborhood sits on the 15 acres once here, along with the Charles Drew Health Center. This article is a history of the Pleasantview Homes Public Housing Project in North Omaha.
Originally called the Near North Side Projects, it was changed to Parker Street Projects, then to Pleasantview within a year of it being announced. A popular Omaha architecture firm called Leo A. Daly Company designed the complex. The Pleasantview Towers was a 6-story, 51-unit apartment building, and the other 184 units in the Pleasantview Homes two-story buildings were spread across 14 acres. In late 1953, the minimum cost of project was billed at $3.1 million.
In August 1953, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Matzke became the first residents in the new six-story tower at Pleasantview. With 51 one-bedroom apartments, the tower was built for elderly people and two-person families without children. Mr. Matzke and his wife were elderly and owned “a simple home on a modest acreage” before they moved into the tower. When a fire destroyed that house and illness struck him, the couple were relieved to get a new apartment there. Mr. Matzke died in 1956 at age 80.
The original administration offices for Pleasantview were located at 1915 North 30th Street on the northwest corner of 30th and Parker. Voter registration and voting often happened there in the early years. In 1969, the Douglas County Hospital opened an outreach clinic in the tower at Pleasantview. Planned Parenthood maintained a clinic in Pleasantview from 1968 to 1982.
Scattered-site housing was introduced by the Omaha Housing Authority in the 1960s. These were public housing units spread into individual houses and not clustered in apartments. Two decades later, OHA became committed to their exclusive usage and the demolition of the projects.
In the 2000s, Pleasantview was completely demolished, as were the neighborhood Hilltop Projects in 1995. Within the next decade, the area where they both sat was recreated as an “urban village” designed to build on surrounding institutions like Salem Baptist Church, the Charles Drew Health Center, the Urban League and the Miami Heights neighborhood. Plans called for mixed-income and mixed-type housing, neighborhood services, and an intergenerational community center, and the Highlander neighborhood was built as a result.