Part 6-Leavenworth Street Makes a Comeback

L 14 Flats, located on the corner of 14th and Leavenworth.  Image courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/pages/L14-Flats-Apartment-Homes

L 14 Flats, located on the corner of 14th and Leavenworth. Image courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/pages/L14-Flats-Apartment-Homes

Leavenworth Street had never been very sexy. The eclectic mix of aging warehouses, dormant thrift shops, vacant storefronts, and well, its prison, created an environment in which the name conjured up an image of a boundary line. It had seemingly, for many years, served as a border between a thriving urban core and a once bustling urban neighborhood. Little by little, though, this perception changed. Over the past decade, projects such as the Rows and Soma, the Drake Court, the Baker Supply Building, laid the foundation for Leavenworth Street’s new reputation: the a unique urban neighborhood minutes from the Old Market. Announced in the Summer of 2011 and recently completed, the L 14 Flats have become another welcome addition to the now trendy address in downtown Omaha.

The property, which contains 42 apartment units featuring various layouts, rests on the site of a former taxicab dispatch center. With features such as garage parking, an outdoor courtyard, and the obvious ability to live just a few steps away from the cultural center of the entire state of Nebraska, the building serves as yet another example of a successful urban living project in downtown Omaha.

More importantly, the project helped usher in a new vision for downtown. For too long, the focus of downtown living has been centered around the Old Market. This redevelopment into Market West, as the area is now know, shows that all parts of downtown (not just one or two) can create their own distinct culture and vibe. Additionally, America First Real Estate Group’s ability to lease out the property with relative ease shows that downtown market continues to absorb new multifamily construction and is likely capable of more investment.

Although no new projects have currently been announced along Leavenworth Street, one cannot help but imagine the endless possibilities that the street has to offer. The one time border between the thriving and the disenfranchised is now becoming an epicenter of downtown living.

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Part 5-NuStyle Development Asks Why.

The 16-Story 2223 Dodge Building now known as the Highline

The 16-Story 2223 Dodge Building now known as the Highline

It is about to usher in an entirely new era in downtown Omaha.  Although it has been a craze in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States, Omaha, for years, has lacked a true, urban, trendy, highrise apartment building.  Sure, there are buildings like the Opheum Tower, Riverfront Place, and others who boast the amenities of highrise living, but few will be able to match the dream that is about to become reality thanks to NuStyle Development Corp.

Acquired in July of 2012 by NuStyle for the price of $2.3 million, 2223 Dodge Street has been a long vacant eyesore in the heart of downtown Omaha.  Strategically located between booming Midtown and the bustling urban core of downtown Omaha, the building has sat dormant and unoccupied since 2002.

Ironically, the new towering testament to the strength of downtown, the building once served as the headquarters of American’s symbol of corporate greed and dishonesty.

Enron Corp, formed through Omaha based Northern Natural Gas’ acquisition of Huston Natural Gas, Interon, as it was initially named, called the building home for many years.  In hindsight, it may have been a sign of things to come. After promising to keep their corporate headquarters in Omaha, CEO Kenneth Lay moved the company, almost overnight, to the city of Houston.  In the years after their departure, the building changed hands multiple times.  Although it was updated many times throughout the 1990s, its last tenants vacated in 2002.  Omaha’s third largest structure (at the time) was now vacant.  In 2001, it appraised for a stunning $11.8 Million.

Despite its tumultuous past, NuStyle saw an opportunity for growth.  After realizing the success of their most recent project, the Bank, which converted the former Farm Credit Building at 19th and Douglas into apartments, it was clear that the site, located just blocks from the Joslyn Art Museum, Central High School and Creighton University, was ripe with potential.  Soon, the $30 million conversion project will boast 180 to 200 apartment units with amenities such as a rooftop patio, theater, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and breathtaking 360-degree views of downtown Omaha that will be a sight to behold.

Thanks to the investment by NuStyle, this once prominent address will become the Highline, one of the most sought after residential addresses in downtown Omaha.

For more information visit: http://www.thehighlineomaha.com/

Source: The Omaha World-Hearld

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Part 4-Reviving Kimball’s Legacy at 15th and Dodge

An architect’s rendering of the redeveloped Old Federal Building (courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald and Alley Poyner Macchietto)

It was 1878 when a young Thomas Kimball and his family moved to the banks of the muddy Missouri River to the bustling railroad town of Omaha, Nebraska.  At the time, his current neighbors likely could not fathom the role that the young 16-year-old Kimball would have in shaping the architectural landscape of Omaha.  The future graduate of MIT aided in the creation of local icons such as the Hotel Fontenelle, the Medical Arts Building, Omaha Public Library, Burlington Station, St. Cecilia Cathedral, and campus of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.  In all, he was responsible for the design of over 25 buildings across town, few of which are still in existence today.  Built in 1933, the Old Federal Building on 15th and Dodge Streets remains one of the few existing Omaha landmarks designed by Kimball.

Constructed as a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the 12 story 105,000 square foot building was home to several federal agencies, including, the US Weather Bureau, the Internal Revenue Services, US Department of Agriculture, and most recently the Army Corps of Engineers.  For the past few years though, the once bustling legacy of Kimball has been relegated the status of just another vacant building in Downtown Omaha.

In December of 2011 that changed when First OFB, a joint venture between Iowa based Nelson Development and Rosemont, Illinois’ First Hospitality Group acquired the property for $2.375 million.  The group intends to bring the property to new life with a 152 room Residence Inn by Marriott.

The approximately $23 million redevelopment will create an estimated 50 full-time and 25 part-time hospitality jobs and is slated to open in the Spring of 2013.  The hotel will feature amenities such as Wi-Fi, a fitness center, meeting space, and will serve as a great compliment to the sculpture park located just west of the property.

The project will help meet the demands of the currently undeserved Downtown Omaha hotel market.  With just under 2,400 rooms currently, the 152 rooms created by this project is among the over 600 units either planned or under construction in downtown.  Worth noting, the building is located in an area not widely utilized by tourists.  Most other projects are taking place in either the Old Market or North Downtown neighborhoods.  This project speaks volumes of the level of confidence out-of-town developers and investors are seeing in Downtown’s core.  Additionally, the hotel will greatly serve neighboring corporate giants including First National Bank, Union Pacific, and Woodman of the World.

Currently under construction, it will be exciting to see another great piece of Omaha’s history saved.  With the proud legacy of one of Omaha’s great architects at stake, the hotel project will be a wonderful reminder of the many contributions made by Thomas Kimball to the Omaha landscape.

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Follow Building Omaha on Facebook

It must be official now! You can now follow the Building Omaha blog via facebook.com.  Please take a minute to “Like” my page on Facebook to receive updates on all postings from Building Omaha.

I have more exciting posts coming in the following weeks.  Don’t miss it!

http://www.facebook.com/BuildingOmaha

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Marquette Real Estate Strategies Conference 2012

In September of 2012, the Marquette University College of Business celebrated two key events: the 10th year anniversary of the Real Estate Program and its first ever Real Estate Strategies Conference.  Dr. Mark Eppli, Bell Chair in Real Estate and Interim Dean of the College of Business and the Center for Real Estate had the distinct pleasure of hosting Thomas McDonald, former Chief Strategic Officer at Equity International.  The approximately hour and a half event featured a keynote presentation from Mr. McDonald, a fireside chat with Dr. Eppli, and a celebration of the 10th birthday of the Center.

I had a chance to watch the videos in their entirety last night, and felt they would be worth sharing.  Enjoy.

Marquette 2012 Real Estate Strategies Conference Keynote Thomas McDonald

Fireside Chat with Dr. Mark Eppli: Marquette Real Estate Strategies Conference 2012

Celebration: 10 years of Real Estate Education and Dr. Mark Eppli at Marquette University

-Videos courtesy of the Marquette Center for Real Estate.

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