Tag Archives: Dicon

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 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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