MIDDLE MARKET HIGHLIGHT, APRIL 2007
As the largest city in Nebraska, Omaha doesn’t rely on the success of any one industry for its commercial real estate market to thrive. Many corporations from a variety of sectors are moving into or expanding throughout the city. LandAmerica, a major insurance company, relocated to Nebraska in 2006, and PayPal Inc., Securities America and ACI all have announced major developments set to come online in the near future. In addition, Omaha-based TD Ameritrade has issued a request for proposals for the development of a new suburban office campus.
“Omaha is attempting to attract all types of industries, but particular emphasis currently is being placed on high-tech, defense, insurance and retail,” says Jeff Beals, vice president of operations for Coldwell Banker Commercial World Group.
Beals explains that the reasons for this emphasis are as follows: there are burgeoning high-tech education programs in Omaha, and the city always has been a major information technology and telecommunications center. In the defense industry, there has been significant mission growth at U.S. Statcomm, which is based at the Offutt Air Force Base in suburban Bellevue, Nebraska, and further, both Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin recently delivered new 100,000-square-foot regional headquarters offices. The insurance market has seen several companies establish major presences in Omaha — including AFLAC, Pacific Life and LandAmerica — due to the city’s strong business environment and the state’s “favorable insurance laws.” Finally, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce is working to increase retail development offerings both in “historically disadvantaged parts of the city as well as at the very highest end of the luxury spectrum,” Beals says.
Development has been strong throughout the city, with heavy office and condominium development occurring in midtown and downtown. Retail development has been strongest in suburban Papillion, Nebraska, as well as in the highly affluent areas of west Omaha.
With regards to specific developments, several mixed-use projects and urban villages are currently under construction, following the national trend. Included in this lot are Southport, a 237-acre project located in La Vista, which is anchored by the PayPal Inc. operations headquarters as well as a 125,000-square-foot Cabela’s outdoor superstore. Looking toward the future at Southport, a 90,000-square-foot headquarters office for Securities America is in the works and a major office building for an engineering firm is planned. A huge hospitality component will also be integrated into the project, and will offer a 116-room Hampton Inn, a seven-story Embassy Suites Hotel (which will have an 80,000-square-foot convention center attached), a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn by Marriott.
Another major development in Omaha is Midtown Crossing at Turner Park, a $250 million project funded by Mutual of Omaha, which will feature seven buildings (most of which rise nine stories), 600 residential units, a movie theater, a fitness club and 200,000 square feet of retail space. Next to University of Nebraska at Omaha’s south campus near 72nd and Center streets, development will soon begin on Ak-Sar-Ben Village, a New Urbanist neighborhood.
Finally, in southwestern Omaha at 204th and Q streets, construction is set to begin on Coventry, a mixed-use development anchored by the 162,000-square-foot headquarters facility for Omaha-based ACI, which is the company that invented ATM software. The 204th Street corridor, also known as U.S. Highway 6/State Highway 31, should see a significant amount of development due to Coventry, in addition to the fact that it recently was expanded into a four-lane divided highway.
“In the future, it will be interesting to watch the 204th Street corridor where it goes through the suburb of Elkhorn, which is being annexed by the city of Omaha this year,” Beals says. “Elkhorn’s population is between 8,000 and 9,000 people, and since it is a hostile annexation, there is some friction in that area of town, which could make development there a little interesting for the next couple of years.”
DLR GROUP HAS DOWNTOWN ON THE RISE
DLR Group, a national architecture, engineering and design services firm, is making its presence felt during the course of downtown Omaha’s current real estate resurgence. The company is providing design services for a number of significant developments currently in the works, including the landmark redevelopment on the site of the former Union Pacific headquarters. In place of the nearly 100-year-old building, Overland Park, Kansas-based Townsend Incorporated is developing Wallstreet Tower, a $122 million mixed-use project.
DLR Group has created a design for the 32-story Wallstreet Tower that is unique to downtown Omaha, with a contemporary aesthetic and warm, modern interior design. The building has immediately become an integral part of the city’s downtown revitalization, as it will be the third tallest building in Omaha upon completion.
The majority of the tower’s space will be composed of 282 residential units, which will range in price from $195,000 to $620,000. Lenexa, Kansas-based Focus Architecture is providing the interior design for the residential units.
Office and retail space will be available on the lower levels of the building, and an attached parking garage will be adjacent to the tower.
Currently, the development team is beginning the demolition process, including asbestos removal and the razing of the Union Pacific structure, which should conclude in May 2008.
In addition to its design of Wallstreet Tower, DLR Group is designing two new hotels that The North Central Group is developing within an urban redevelopment area — the North Omaha Downtown Development — located just north of downtown Omaha.
The Hilton-branded hotels are a four-story, 139-room Hampton Inn & Suites and a eight-story, 123-room Homewood Suites by Hilton, which will be Omaha’s first extended-stay hotel offering.
The two hotels are under construction adjacent to one another, on sites that were restricted by tight parameters. DLR Group designed a shared entry way, in which a pedestrian plaza with pavers, benches and a landscaped courtyard will connect the hotels.
DLR decided on a warehouse-contemporary style for the design of the hotels in keeping with the history and existing architecture of downtown Omaha. The exteriors include brick, cast stone, stucco and metal panels. Guest amenities in each hotel will include a pool, fitness center and business center.
— Kevin Jeselnik
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