Today, Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley joined Ogallala investors, leaders and shareholders to commemorate the future site of the city’s most recent tourism project. The Driftwood will serve as a venue for cultural and performing arts to compliment the area’s thriving tourism industry. Its location at 114 Spruce Street will occupy nearly 6,000-square-feet of downtown property, which has been vacant since the closure of Ogallala True Value in 2015.
Slated for completion in 2019, the 350-seat Driftwood will be equipped with modern sound and lighting amenities, a full-service kitchen and beverage area and an outdoor covered patio. The multi-use space will be the first of its kind in Ogallala, and unique within a 200-square-mile radius.
The Lt. Gov. toured the site with Keith County Area Development (KCAD) Executive Director Mary Wilson and members of KCAD’s Board of Directors, Ogallala/Keith County Chamber of Commerce and West Central Nebraska Development District (WCNDD). Project owners and investors Jeremy Smith, T.J. McMillian and Jason Hiltibrand hosted the event.
Funding from local investors, KCAD and the State of Nebraska are assisting in the project. Construction on The Driftwood will begin later this month.
“This is an exciting day for Ogallala,” Lt. Gov. Foley said. “We talk a lot about ‘growing Nebraska’ — attracting new residents to our communities; encouraging our young people to stay at home to start a business or raise a family; drawing in tourism. Investing in our communities, enhancing their quality of life, as we’re witnessing today, is the best way to accomplish those goals. We commend the City of Ogallala for their achievement, and look forward to opening day.”
With its close proximity to Lake McConaughy, Ogallala is a popular western Nebraska tourist destination. City leaders and residents are excited about The Driftwood’s potential to draw additional crowds on Spruce Street, which serves as a direct link between downtown Ogallala and Highway 61 near McConaughy.
“The Driftwood has great potential to impact downtown Ogallala and beyond – from creating a downtown nightlife for locals to drawing tourists from Lake McConaughy,” said KCAD Director Mary Wilson. “The project began with a vision from local investors, which in turn created a partnership with the Department of Economic Development, the City of Ogallala and West Central Nebraska Development District. Creating a quality entertainment venue for current and future residents to enjoy is a major focus in our community right now, and this project really helps us take a big step in that direction. The Driftwood will be a wonderful addition to Ogallala, Keith County and western Nebraska.”
Financed by local investors, the Driftwood was also supported by a $346,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).
Allocated by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by DED on behalf of the State of Nebraska, CDBG grants support a variety of community and economic development activities, ranging from downtown revitalization to public works improvements. The Driftwood was funded under the category of tourism development.
“Our congratulations to Keith County Area Development and West Central Nebraska Development District, who have spearheaded the community’s successful efforts on this project,” said Steve Charleston, DED CDBG Program Manager. “This is another great example of the tremendous value of the CDBG program in terms of supporting projects that enhance the quality of life in our Nebraska communities.”