Aksarben Center project will add shops, offices, 72nd Street hotel

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Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 11:25 am, Tue Mar 25, 2014.

Construction is expected to begin this spring on a $17 million project that will include a new hotel and a retail strip shopping center with upstairs office space at the southeast corner of 72nd Street and Poppleton Avenue.

Aksarben Center will include five retail bays and about 12,000 square feet of office space on the second floor. First tenants include Starbucks, RadioShack and new-to-Omaha sandwich chain Jersey Mike's Subs.

Omaha-based Access Commercial, which is developing the retail center, has partnered with MH Hospitality to bring a 102-room Hampton Inn just south of the retail portion.

The project is part of the approximately 11-acre Aksarben mixed use project located between the Shoppes at Aksarben to the north and, to the south, the College of St. Mary and an Omaha Public Power District substation.

The land, originally owned by First Data, was approved last year for rezoning. Access Commercial and MH Hospitality then purchased approximately three and a quarter acres of the land.

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The remaining eight acres of the land will be used for a three-story assisted-living facility to the east of the retail portion of the project. The plan is for the facility to include about 60 assisted-living units and about 30 memory care units and cost about $17 million, according to city planning documents, but no information was available on when construction would start. An application for tax increment financing is pending.

The hotel developer, Dan Marak of MH Hospitality based in Shawnee, Kan., said he decided to partner with Access in order to have more control of the frontage on 72nd Street. “I kind of wanted to control my neighbor, if you will,” Marak said. He added, “Food and beverage are going to be very good for us over there, with our location.”

The hotel will be MH Hospitality's sixth Omaha-area hotel project, including the Hampton Inn in Bellevue. The company recently took over management of Regency Lodge and also owns hotels in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky.

Marak was interested in the Aksarben Village area because of the proximity to a number of corporate headquarters, including Gordmans and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, and to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Marak said he's had a hard time luring Aksarben-area visitors and business travelers to other hotels he manages or owns, such as Regency Lodge. “They want to stay right there,” he said.

The announcement of the new University of Nebraska at Omaha arena came after he had picked the spot. “The UNO arena is a blessing for this hotel.”

Marak also said he's impressed with plans for the redevelopment of Crossroads Mall. “It's going to be its own little animal going forward,” he said.

The new Starbucks, which will include a drive-through, will be in addition to the existing location at 72nd and Dodge Streets, Access Commercial principal Kirk Hanson said. The second location is meant to relieve pressure from the heavy drive-through traffic the 72nd and Dodge store sees, as well as to create more of a “hangout” coffee shop for college students in the area, Hanson said.

Jersey Mike's has two locations in Lincoln, and RadioShack has several stores throughout the Omaha area.

“We feel this first-class development best leverages the phenomenal demand for the Aksarben area, while maximizing visibility to approximately 90,000 vehicles per day traveling through the intersection of 72nd and Pacific,” said Darren Hicks, principal of Access Commercial.

Hanson said Access saw a need for new, smaller office space with high exposure. Much of the office space available in the area is much larger or older, he said. He envisioned it would be ideal for a creative or technology company.

Construction will be handled by Omaha-based Dicon and should start within the next 60 days, Hanson said.

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