Major projects are changing the Omaha-area landscape according to Omaha.com

POSTED: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2015 1:00 AM

From the new Lumberyard District in old downtown Millard to north downtown’s so-called Innovation District, clusters of commercial and residential construction projects are expected to change the Omaha-area landscape this year.

Among the hottest development spots is around Village Pointe shopping center, where a couple of the area’s largest real estate firms are building headquarters, other new office and retail structures are rising and a new rehabilitation hospital is getting underway.

“That whole area just kind of went crazy, ” said Vince Leisey, owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate. He said he will shift his staff later this year into a new headquarters at 331 Village Pointe Plaza. Since announcing the move, the footprint of the facility that will include other tenants has expanded, and its price tag grew from an estimated $10 million to $15 million.

Midtown also is a hotbed of construction activity, buoyed by continued development at Aksarben Village, the University of Nebraska at Omaha arena set to open this fall near 67th and Center Streets, and the nearby $42.6 million medical office that developers call the TH!NK center.

Ripples of construction continue to downtown, where apartments and hotel rooms are being built, and south to Sarpy County’s booming residential housing market.

Tim Underwood of MarketGraphics Nebraska expects homebuilding to pick up this year, following a 2014 that fell below expectations with fewer building permits issued than in 2013.

He anticipates the fastest residential growth will be along Highway 370 in Sarpy County, where sprawling subdivisions are replacing farmland, especially near Werner Park.

Developer Tom Falcone, however, said he still sees more demand than he can satisfy in certain west Omaha areas, particularly those served by the Elkhorn school district. His latest project calls for turning 162 acres of rolling agricultural land near 186th and Blondo Streets into 348 single-family lots.

He said houses, meanwhile, continue to sprout on Windgate Ranch and other Douglas County subdivisions he has developed. “They’re getting gobbled up as fast as we put them out.”

A sampling of developments that should be visible in 2015:

Village Pointe area

» Sharing a courtyard with the Ambassador Real Estate headquarters will be Pitch pizzeria’s new west Omaha restaurant, slated to open in the spring.

» Nearby will be the new 47,000-square-foot office structure whose anchor tenant is the Advent intellectual property law firm.

» Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital should be full throttle on the exterior of its $93 million, 110-bed facility just west of the Village Pointe shopping center, although it isn’t expected to open until later in 2016.

West Dodge corridor

» An apartment complex with more than 300 units is to launch this spring, as Deeb Realty finishes its new corporate building at the 54-acre West Dodge Pointe office park west of 168th Street. The frontage road parallel to West Dodge is to be lowered, raising the visibility of the development site, which is north of the Village Pointe shopping center.

» A summer completion is expected for the $7.5 million, 42,000-square-foot building project at 158th Street and West Dodge Road that will have as its main tenant the Tagge Rutherford Financial Group, partner Chad Peterson said.

» The 14,100-square-foot sales office for NP Dodge real estate, called 148Dodge, is to open in the fall and will be the sixth NP Dodge office to overlook the Dodge corridor.

» Construction is expected in midyear, says Lanoha Development, on a 30,000-square-foot office building near 85th and Cass Streets.

» Construction could begin on a 75,000-square-foot office building at Fountain West office park announced in 2013 by West Des Moines-based R&R Realty Group. The 40-acre site, southeast of the West Dodge Road and 192nd Street intersection, has been held up by discussions about the entry road configuration.

Downtown

» Walls are set to go up soon on the five-story Hotel Omaha by Express and retail space northeast of 24th and Farnam Streets, a $17.8 million project to be open by late summer.

» The $20 million rehabilitation of a run-down, multiblock residential district is to start this month near 22nd Street and Dewey Avenue and be mostly done by year’s end. The Flats on Howard project, developed by former Husker Ndamukong Suh’s TFL Development and Arch Icon Development, promises to turn a crime magnet into a trendy, techie housing campus.

» The Corvina, a 125-unit apartment complex under construction at Ninth and Jones Streets, is to open this summer. Ground-level commercial tenants are to move in a few months prior. They are BVH Architects, which designed the structure, and developer City Ventures. Also at the site will be an “auto spa” owned by the developer and open to the public.

North downtown

» A pocket northeast of 17th and Cuming Streets this year will take on a new look as the $9.2 million, five-story Nichol Flats apartment and retail building by Anant Enterprises rises; a former hay warehouse is converted into housing by NuStyle Development; and a cluster of vacant structures, including the J.F. Bloom & Co. building at 1702 Cuming St., are repurposed.

» The Nichol Flats and Rochester projects will add 142 apartments to north downtown, which residents call an innovation district. Arun Agarwal of White Lotus Group, which recently purchased the Bloom property, said his renovation project will offer dining, retail and parking space.

» Two other vacant structures, a defunct fire station at 999 N. 16th St. and Fitzgerald boardinghouse at 1624 Cuming St., recently were purchased. The firehouse is being restored into the future home of W.I.T. Capital Management (What It Takes); the boardinghouse owner was unavailable to comment.

Midtown

» A plan announced in late 2013 for a key, vacant block at Aksarben Village (a new $50 million complex referred to as Waitt Plaza) has been tweaked based on tenant requests, and construction on the resulting pair of buildings with about 180,000 square feet of office and retail space and a parking garage should begin in late 2015, said Jay Noddle of Noddle Cos.

» Also at the village, 40 more upscale apartments are to go up this spring, and the five-story office and retail building whose anchor tenant is Pacific Life Insurance Co. is to be completed later in the year, along with a connected four-story parking structure. That’s about the time the nearby UNO/Community Arena is to be opened.

» The six-story Think Whole Person Healthcare facility, with glass exterior and a $40 million price tag, should open this summer on a 5-acre site at the northeast corner of 72nd Street and West Center Road.

Southwest

» Called the Lumberyard District, the 15.5-acre site formerly owned by Millard Lumber is to see new construction start this summer. To be included on the recently cleared property near 135th and Q Streets: two commercial buildings (40,000 square feet of office space; 20,000 square feet of retail) and five apartment buildings (338 units).

» Development, residential and commercial, continues at the sprawling Sterling Ridge campus near 132nd and Pacific Streets. A Summer Kitchen and Scooters are to move into part of the recently constructed retail component. A law firm is the latest tenant to announce a move into one of the office structures.

Benson area

A multimillion-dollar complex with more than 100,000 square feet is to break ground near 60th Street and Northwest Radial. The site, about 2.5 acres, is to offer a mix of commercial and residential uses, said developer Chris Erickson of City Ventures. A bank now on that site will be razed, but the project is phased so that bank services will not be disrupted.

Northwest

» The West Grayhawk 85,000-square-foot retail center, with Fresh Thyme grocery as an anchor, is to be built at 147th Street and West Maple Road, said Lockwood Development Co.

North and South Omaha

» An apartment project proposed in 2012 is to be completed this year. The historic Ak-Sar-Ben Beef building near 24th and Vinton Streets is to be converted into the Lofts on 24th. Developer Arch Icon said all the financing finally was approved for the $3.8 million project.

» Construction is to begin this summer on the former Mister C’s site at 30th and Fort Streets. The 30 Metropolitan Place project has been expanded to five stories, with 110 apartments and ground-level retail services tailored to the needs of students at the nearby and expanding Metropolitan Community College Fort Street Campus.

Sarpy County

» The seventh building, about 20,000 square feet, is to be done in 2015 at Midlands Place near 84th Street and Highway 370. The structure, anchored by Athletes’ Training Center, will include retail and medical services, developer Russ Daub said.

» Papillion expects to see construction next year on the Bellino Ninety Six project, about 25,000 square feet of commercial space and a 345-unit apartment complex at 96th Street and Cornhusker Road, said Planning Director Mark Stursma. Also to be completed: the $50 million Hillcrest Grand Lodge near 60th Street and Highway 370.

Residential subdivisions

» Home construction is poised to start at the Prairies at Skyline Drive and West Center Road and the Bluewater lake community in Valley. Among new Papillion housing areas: Prairie Hills, Ashbury Creek, Granite Falls, South Brook.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1224, cindy.gonzalez@owh.com

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