New developments, redevelopments and new construction projects are underway across the metro area, from our urban core to the suburbs. While each project has specific objectives to impact its immediate vicinity, there are a few projects that we think are real difference-makers — projects that will change Omaha’s landscape, skyline and future use and development.
- The first of these is West Farm, a development of the 260-acre former Boys Town farm southwest of 144th and Dodge Street and the 230-acre Demarco farm southwest of 144th and Pacific Street. To support an anticipated increase in traffic, 144th Street is being widened to six lanes from Dodge to Pine streets, and the Dodge Street Overpass at 150th Street is being reconstructed, which will provide full access to West Farm. In addition to the new 235,000 square foot headquarters for Applied Underwriters and a new church for St. Wenceslaus parish, there are reports of an eight-story, approximately 160,000 square foot office building that will house a bank headquarters and offices for a major Omaha employer.
Also announced is an $84 million upscale senior living project, and rumors of retailers including luxury auto dealerships. The initial building construction was contemplated for this fall, but may not start until 2019, and construction may not be completed for 10 to 15 years. However, the impact of this project begins now.
- Mutual of Omaha announced that it has hired Hines Company of Houston, Texas to consult on and develop a new corporate headquarters on Mutual’s campus at 36th and Dodge Street. A new 450,000 square foot building has been discussed, and the project would also include the redevelopment of Mutual’s existing headquarters. Construction is not expected to begin for several years, but when the buildings are completed, they will further cement Mutual’s commitment as a decades-long anchor to midtown Omaha.
- There are a variety of smaller new construction and redevelopment projects in the Midtown Crossing and Blackstone District neighborhoods. Taken individually, these projects may not significantly impact the neighborhood, but collectively, they are dramatically changing the demographics and character of the entire midtown area.
- In downtown Omaha, there are also a number of projects in progress that will help keep Omaha’s central business district a vibrant anchor for our city. Conagra Brands has also hired Hines Company to guide preliminary redevelopment plans for the Conagra campus that would add a half million square feet of office space to the downtown skyline as well as retail and residential space along the riverfront. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce recently received multiple bids from developers to redevelop its former headquarters location at 13th and Harney Street, a prime location.
- Tying this downtown and midtown development together is serious talk about a rail system to connect midtown, downtown and north downtown. A modern streetcar system has been talked about for years, but now seems to be getting serious consideration. There are ongoing discussions about the cost, viability and sustainability of this type of transportation system with advocates pointing to the success of streetcars in other cities and the ensuing development and redevelopment along streetcar lines.
- In west Omaha, 168th, 156th and 180th streets will each be widened to four lanes over the next four years between Dodge and Maple. The construction will cause headaches for drivers in west Omaha as they find street construction projects and their related detours and lane closures around every turn. However, once completed, this effort will not only alleviate traffic congestion on these roads but stimulate businesses and neighborhoods in northwest Omaha as drivers more regularly use these routes.
We predict that five years from now, these projects and many other developments will have changed the face of Omaha and that they will impact growth and progress across the metro area for decades to come.