Anchor Inn moving from riverfront -
Published Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:10 am
Anchor Inn moving from riverfront

The Anchor Inn, the former riverfront bar and grill, is moving away from the Missouri. Far away.

City officials say last summer's floodwaters largely destroyed the bar's structures near Freedom Park, and that local codes prohibited rebuilding.

Now, the popular summer music venue will occupy a 4,800-square-foot space just south of 72nd and Q Streets. The bar's owners will appear before the Omaha City Council on Tuesday for a liquor license hearing.

“We plan on staying here,” bar owner Jeff Rybin said of the new location at 5413 S. 72nd St. The bar will still have music on the weekends and the same menu, Rybin said.

“The only difference is we'll be open year-round and seven days a week now,” he said, instead of being open seasonally.

The opening for the bar's new location is scheduled for April 6.

Rybin said he leased the riverside space but hopes he'll be able to hold events there once that property's future is settled.

Hazard Corp., which owns the riverside property, disputes the city's assessment of flood damage to the building and believes it should be able to rebuild. A city hearing on the matter is pending.

The Anchor Inn has featured musicians such as the Black Keys, She & Him and Conor Oberst.

The Anchor Inn typically booked its own concerts with local groups and cover bands, though the Omaha music promoter 1% Productions has put on concerts there.

Marc Leibowitz, co-owner of 1% Productions, said it's hard to say whether concert promoters will be interested in booking touring groups at the new location.

Leibowitz's company booked concerts at the venue's riverfront location because it was outdoors, on the river and it fit a particular size crowd, he said. However, the company's lone booking in 2011 had to be moved because of flooding.

“If they have an infrastructure and it fits in the right niche, then maybe,” Leibowitz said of the new location.

This winter, the city declared that the bar and other buildings nearby could no longer be used because of flood damage and zoning laws.
Because the area is in a floodway, city codes prohibit rebuilding, said Rick Cunningham, city planning director.

The Anchor Inn “does not conform with the land-use ordinance that says what can occur on a piece of property,” Cunningham said at the time.

The buildings were already in use when the area's zoning changed and they were grandfathered in. But the city said that exception does not allow them to be rebuilt.

Cunningham said it's important that the city be vigilant about flood rules because the Federal Emergency Management Agency could otherwise impose sanctions that would affect the flood insurance of everyone in the city limits.

World-Herald staff writer Kevin Coffey contributed to this report.

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