'Main street' concept takes shape at Sterling Ridge

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:00 am

Dodging goose droppings and the seasonal ice patch, inelegant as that can be, were signs of robust growth for RBC Wealth Management of Omaha.

Soon the firm's expanding staff will not have to brave the elements or the wildlife at a nearby pond to meet with one another, though. RBC, currently divided between two buildings near 101st and Pacific Streets, will be relocating this summer to a single, larger home farther west at Sterling Ridge.

“We're excited to come together as one,” said Jason Hince of RBC, who chuckled at the occasional goose confrontation he's had when running to the other office. “We're either trekking across the frozen tundra or hot asphalt.”

RBC will be among the first tenants — and so far the largest — in Sterling Ridge's latest office building, a 60,000-square-foot building that should be fully constructed in August.

The new structure signals a growth spurt for the 150-acre, mixed-use Sterling Ridge redevelopment that is emerging on a former country club and golf course at 132nd and Pacific Streets. The budding campus early on gained more notoriety for the unique blend of religious institutions to be built there: a synagogue, a mosque and a church.

Now the office complex and its “main street” concept are starting to take shape.

Just east of RBC's future home, two new retail buildings are going up. The side-by-side structures, also to be completed in August, will house Sterling Ridge's first retail shops.

Tenants have yet to be secured, said Chip James of Lockwood Development, but are expected to include service retailers such as restaurants and a coffee shop.

Water features, a sculpture and landscaping soon will spruce up that row of office and retail space along Pacific Street. On the western end of the row sits the 90,000-square-foot Millard Refrigerated Services headquarters, which opened last year.

The Millard Refrigerated building is a larger but similar version of the office building under construction. Together, the three-story structures help to create a formal entry into the office park off of Pacific Street.

In all, the sprawling Sterling Ridge is expected to contain up to 750,000 square feet of Class A office space, about 60,000 square feet of retail space, an upscale hotel, the tri-faith religious campus, single-family houses and condos.

An apartment-style retirement community, the Heritage at Sterling Ridge, also is nearing completion. Scheduled to open later this year at 127th and Pacific Streets, that $14.5million facility run by Heritage Management Services will offer independent and assisted living and a memory care wing.

So far, a dozen of the 40 single-family lots in phase one have been sold, said Bob Begley of Lockwood Development. Two houses already are built, and six houses are under construction or soon will begin construction, he said.

Temple Israel opened last summer, the first of the three houses of worship planned at Sterling Ridge.

“We're probably a little ahead of where we thought we'd be,” said James, whose Lockwood Development company bought the former golf course property for $9.98million at a foreclosure auction in early 2010. “For as big as the project is, to have it this far already is pretty amazing.”

Lockwood is moving its corporate offices into the new building to be shared by RBC and Advanced Dermatology Clinic. Lockwood will take 7,000 square feet on the first floor, the dermatology clinic will take 7,700 square feet, and another tenant has committed to 3,300 feet but doesn't want to be identified yet, said James.

He said he is negotiating with another business that wants most of the second floor.

A main road through Sterling Ridge, Pierce Street, separates the RBC and Lockwood building from a still-to-be-developed public plaza that will be visible to motorists when they enter, said Todd Moeller and Tim Holland of Holland Basham Architects, which is working with Lockwood.

The architects said the idea is for the multipurpose campus to be a walkable community where people work, live, play and worship.

Retail buildings, for example, are designed so there is no back door. Patrons can enter from either side, which Moeller said is atypical of most office developments.

RBC's Hince said it was Chip James' portrayal of Sterling Ridge as his signature project — one that will make an “indelible mark on Omaha” — that helped attract his firm there.

Driving the move, primarily, was growth. Hince, Omaha branch director of RBC, was the seventh financial adviser when he joined the local group in 2011. That count has risen to 17. The support staff, or client associates, has grown from five to 11.

Today the Omaha office manages $3.6 billion in assets, up from $2 billion three years ago, said Hince.

To accommodate the expanding staff, RBC in January 2013 added extra space in the Koley Jessen building about 100 yards from the firm's main office in the Security National Bank building.

While the Sterling Ridge space is only slightly bigger in total square footage than the two previous spots, it is under one roof and has a more efficient layout that RBC had a hand in planning.

The 13,000 square feet will feature high-tech conference rooms, a wellness room and a third-floor deck where financial advisers can work or invite a client for lunch.

In an industry heavy on tradition and “old wooden heavy desks,” Hince said, an outside retreat is a welcome change. “Inside our peer group, I think it will be a very unique feature.”

Hince said the campus plan overall appeared to be a good balance of business and daily life.

It is close enough, he said, to the West Dodge Road commercial corridor and the “high net worth demographics of town.” Yet it's far enough removed that clients and employees can escape major traffic snags.

“It makes it a little less stressful to come and visit us,” Hince said.

Correction: Tim Holland and Todd Moeller were misidentified in a photo caption on a previous version of this story.

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