Construction site of two buildings
Telegraph Lofts West is being constructed on N Street and S. 21st St, next to Telegraph Lofts East, a multi-use building where the Lincoln Journal Star newsroom is now located. Photo by Abigail Carrera/NNS

As part of an effort to redevelop Downtown Lincoln’s Southeast area, community members drafted a Telegraph District master plan.

The master plan is a three-phase plan that focuses on the renovation of older buildings and the construction of new buildings in the Telegraph District. 

Multiple companies in Lincoln helped develop the Telegraph District Master plan, including Speedway Properties, Nelnet, Papa-George Haymes, Clark & Enersen and the City Urban Development Department.

Phase one began in 2015 and has now since been completed. It included the remodeling of the 401 S. 21st St. building where Nelnet, a student loan service company, is now located. It also included the renovation of the 333 S. 21st St. building for Lotus House of Yoga and Schemmer Associates.

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Phase one renovations included the now-Nelnet office building at S 21st Street and Capitol Parkway. Photo by Abigail Carrera/NNS.

The Telegraph District is home to various small business and residential areas such as The Mill Coffee, Lotus House of Yoga Downtown, Code Beer Company and Telegraph Lofts. 

In 2021, the Lincoln Journal Star’s newsroom moved to the newly built Telegraph Lofts-East on 21st and N after spending nearly 70 years in their last building at 926 P St.

The Telegraph Lofts-East is a mixed-use building. It serves as a residential building for Telegraph residents and has retail space on the first floor for businesses. 

Ashley Jonas, a Telegraph Flats resident, has been living there since August 2021. 

The Telegraph Flats building accommodates small business owners by offering an option to operate their business from their own apartment.

“I really like it because it’s close to campus and the thriving downtown area,” Jonas said. “There’s a few bars within walking distance, lots of bike paths, and I can go to class everyday just by walking.”

Code Beer Company, located on S Antelope Valley Parkway and N Street, and SARO Cider, a cidery on S 18th and N streets, are just a few blocks from the Telegraph Lofts. 

“Some things that I don’t like about the Telegraph is that it is currently in a situation of ongoing construction,” Jonas said.

As a part of phase two of the Telegraph Districts master plan, a series of residential buildings were constructed. 

The residential buildings include Telegraph Flats, Telegraph Lofts-East, Telegraph Lofts-West and the Telegraph Commons. 

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The Telegraph Flat entrance on South 20th and N streets. Photo courtesy of Abigail Carrera/NNS.

Craig Smith and Encompass Architects designed the new buildings in the Telegraph District. 

Originally, the second phase was supposed to include renovations for the Dairy building, otherwise known as the “Fisher Foods” building, but many changes had to be made due to the conditions of the buildings. 

Adam Criswell, director of development and construction for Speedway Properties, assisted with the planning of the Telegraph District development and construction.

“The Dairy building was in too poor of condition and had to be demoed, and we designed and built the Telegraph Flats building in its place,” Criswell said.

In 1924, the Dairy Building or Fisher Foods Building was constructed by J. R. Roberts. 

In 1906, Roberts Dairy Company began on a farm near Lincoln. Roberts would deliver milk produced by his cows to residents in Lincoln. When his company grew larger, the Dairy building was built. 

Other buildings that were in poor condition and demolished were the Towel building and the Power Plant building.

“Towel building was in similar disrepair and had to be also demoed and we are planning to rebuild a building in its place as a build to suit within the next 6 years,” Criswell said. “Power plant building also was demoed to support parking and the amenities for the area residents.

The final phase of the Telegraph District’s master plan is currently pending due to multiple changes that have had to be made in phase two.