Tag Archives: Development

Part 7-Lerner Building Rising to New Heights

A rendering of The District and its 3 story addition to the Lerner Building.

A rendering of The District

Few properties have gone through as many redevelopment proposals as the Lerner Building has.  Since 1995 when the City of Omaha took ownership of the property, the building has been a target for redevelopment.  The only problem?  It took almost 15 years to find one that would stick.

Bought for the price of just $157,500 in May of 2012, the District, as the project is being called, will take the corner of 16th and Harney to new heights, literally.  With plans to create over 4,000 square feet of retail space and 36-38 multifamily apartment units, the 16,000 square foot structure will be expanded to accommodate these ideas.  Whats interesting though, is that the expansion isn’t horizontal, its vertical.  The development team, which is a partnership between Dicon Corp. and Seldin Company, intend to add 3 stories to the top of the existing two-story structure.

At a price tag close to $6 million, the project will serve as a starting off point for the revitalization of 16th Street.  Dormant for years, the once bustling heart of the city has been relegated into a gathering point for many of Omaha’s economically disenfranchised.  Popular for almost a century, 16th Street was once the place to be in downtown.  But in the wake of the post war 50s and the dawn of a new sprawling society, urban malls no longer had their place in Omaha.  Once Brandies closed in 1980, the wide pedestrian corridors that lined 16th Street became a hindrance to parking as opposed to a guide for pedestrian traffic.  One by one businesses closed and the street began to decline.

Soon though, 16th Street will carry with it a different legacy.  As the city continues to work on plans to create angled street parking, remove unsightly bus shelters, and reroute bus traffic away from 16th Street, more developers like Dicon and Seldin will be attracted to the area.  Although it may never again live up to the reputation of the retail heartbeat of the city, it is about to enter a new stage in its life, starting with The District.

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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 3-New Life for the Historic Barker Building

A post card circa 1929 of this Historic Barker Building at 15th and Farnam

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.

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Part 1-Downtown Omaha Boom: Gavilon Makes it’s Mark

Rendering courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald (Sept. 5, 2012)

Over the past several years, most new developments in Downtown Omaha have seemed like more of the same: a historic rehab, a new apartment building, a new hotel, or a new restaurant.  That all changed a few weeks ago when Gavilon, an Omaha based commodities trading firm, announced publically its intentions to move into a new, state of the art office building and trading floor on the site of the former Omaha World-Herald building at 14thand Dodge Streets.

Opus Group, a Twin Cities based real estate company, has been hired as the developer for this build-to-suit project.  Official terms of the deal have not been disclosed.  Regardless, the $44 million, 5 story, 131,225 square-foot office building marks the first significant new office development in downtown Omaha since Union Pacific Center opened in 2004.

First and foremost, this deal is as exciting for the city of Omaha as it is for Downtown Omaha.  Recently acquired by Japan based Marubeni Corp., Gavilon will be cementing its home in the heart of Omaha for years to come.  Additionally, it shows both the health and strength of a company with Omaha roots and serves as yet another Omaha business success story.

For Downtown Omaha, this means several things.  It was able to out compete suburbia.  Gavilon could have gone the route of CSG International, TD Ameritrade, or Blue Cross Blue Shield and build out West.  But they decided to expand and maintain their presence in Downtown Omaha.  This deal will also help bring vibrancy to a long vacant corner of downtown Omaha.  Torn down in 2008, the site sits across the street from the former Union Pacific Headquarters, which was demolished to make way for the now defunct Wallstreet Tower project.  Lastly, the development could mean a ripple effect throughout downtown.  As best stated by David G. Brown, President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, in the Omaha World-Herald on September 5, 2012, “Once construction starts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other lots around it develop, too.”

Site work on the former World-Herald Square Plaza appears to already be underway.  The property should be ready for occupancy by December of 2013.

The momentum is building.  Let’s hope there’s more to come.

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