It’s been almost 15 years since the Barker Building was boarded up. This Neo-Gothic Revival beauty, built by Omaha construction tycoon Peter Kiewit and Sons in 1929, the Barker Building is an important piece of Omaha’s architectural history. Since 2008, this property located at 15th and Farnam has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yet for so many years, this iconic gem has been relegated to a simple eyesore. Thanks to the unprecedented momentum currently shaping the downtown landscape and, of course, a partnership between Omaha based Shamrock Development and Dicon Construction, that is starting to change.
This May, the development team announced their intentions to renovate this piece of history into a vibrant mix of 48 luxury apartments and over 6,000 square feet of street level retail. With apartment rents ranging from $900 to $1,200 per month, this once dormant property will be given a breath of fresh air. Pickleman’s Gormet Cafe has already announced plans to open a sandwich shop at street level. With an estimated project price tag of roughly $9 million, this redevelopment will mark a continuation efforts by developers and city leaders to bring new life to Omaha’s historic addresses.
For the past several years, this activity has seemed to be centered around the Old Market and North Downtown neighborhoods. This project will help “bridge the gap” between Downtown Omaha’s thriving entertainment and nightlife and the corporate core of downtown, currently centered around 16th and Douglas.
Most significantly worth noting is that this project will meet the demand of a market segment mostly overlooked by the downtown construction boom of the early 2000′s: market rate luxury apartments. Past projects of note, such as the Paxton, the Ford Warehouse, and Beebe and Runyan Lofts, tended to focus on the luxury condominium market. This project shows confidence in the downtown rental apartment market and which appears to be gaining momentum across downtown. This redevelopment is one of several currently planned and announced apartment projects in downtown.
With construction underway, it will be interesting to see how this project will shape the immediately surrounding blocks. Several underutilized properties surround the building to the West. In particular, they tend to concentrate around the 16th Street and Farman intersection. With new residents and retail establishments set to move in to the Barker, it will be exciting to watch the surrounding blocks feed off of its rebirth. Upon completion, the Barker Building will again become an important piece of Omaha’s downtown landscape, and will once again be a hub of activity for years to come.