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Our History

Founded in 1967, the Downtown Lincoln Association was originally established as a merchants’ association by downtown retailers who recognized the need for an organization to serve downtown’s unique needs. DLA has since evolved to a multi-faceted organization supporting a wide range of programs and activities including maintenance, economic development and advocacy. DLA is also the umbrella for Updowntowners, Inc., downtown’s events production arm and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. The association works closely with the Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation to support Haymarket revitalization and attractions.



Downtown retailers (“O” Street gang) create Lincoln Chamber of Commerce committee to focus on downtown.


Committee incorporates as independent “Lincoln Center Association” (LCA), establishes office and hires first director, budget based on membership dues. Activities focus on retail promotion and support.


First Maintenance BIDs created to care for new downtown streetscape following Mayor Boosalis’ downtown beautification project. Lincoln Center Association coordinates downtown maintenance.


Retail exodus from downtown (over 1 million square feet closes or moves), membership declines in Lincoln Center Association.


Lincoln Center Association becomes Downtown Lincoln Association, focuses on special events and promotions to bring people to downtown, Association begins to explore management BIDs as an option to support organization.


Lincoln voters approve $12 million bond issue to improve downtown. Haymarket redevelopment underway. Updowntowners is launched by DLA to do events.


First Management BIDs created to support wide range of activities downtown. Transition from a retail center to a mixed-use center begins; retail project is determined to be not financially feasible.


Mayor Mike Johanns redirects $12 million bond fund to add 2300 parking stalls and expand Cornhusker Conference facilities. Haymarket redevelopment accelerates.


Investment Strategy for a Competitive Downtown is released; DLA focuses on economic development and facilitation of redevelopment projects, especially public-private partnerships, in addition to maintenance, events and promotions.


Downtown property owners adopt new organizational structure.


DLA and City receive International Downtown Association Downtown Achievement Award for implementation of Investment Strategy for a Competitive Downtown.


Downtown Master Plan is adopted as 20-year blueprint for downtown growth.


DLA celebrates its 40th anniversary.


Downtown Civic Ventures is activated to support a Retail Retention and Recruitment support program


DLA unveils new brand; BID officially expands to include Haymarket