A vacant office building at 7100 West Center Road is now rubble, making way for a new six-story, $42.6 million medical office that will house about 300 employees.
Most of the jobs will be “newly created, highly skilled jobs,” the developer told city officials. The project this week won City Council approval of $4.7 million in tax-increment financing (the use of projected future gains in property taxes).
The project will combine two neighboring lots at 71st Street and West Center Road to create the six-story, 120,000-square-foot building that will house outpatient doctors' offices, a pharmacy and medical lab. Gift and coffee shops, a fitness center and food amenities for employees are also possibilities.
The demolished building had been vacant since 2008. The neighboring building, which was also vacant for several years, was demolished about three years ago, said developer Zach Wiegert, president of Tetrad Property Group.
“The buildings' useful lives were over. (They were) just not functional buildings for today's market,” he said.
The project is to be completed by spring 2015, Wiegert said, and is expected to create at least 250 jobs, about 150 of which would be medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, plus 50 administrative employees and 50 hourly employees.
The building is a “turnkey design” for a specific tenant, whom Wiegert said he could not identify. Through Wiegert, the tenant declined to comment.
The goal is to complement and extend the redevelopment activities of the Aksarben Village area by adding additional professional jobs to the general area. “Care has been taken in the design to complement other projects being done in the Aksarben Village area,” the developer's proposal said.
Barry Zoob, a senior vice president of Colliers International commercial real estate, said he wasn't surprised to see a large medical office tenant building near Aksarben. One of the goals of the master plan for Aksarben Village, he said, was to create an area well-positioned for companies in the medical industry, including medical and insurance providers and biotech companies.
“This was certainly part of the vision. I think that that vision will be seen,” Zoob said.
He said he also was not surprised to see the two buildings come down to make way for a new development. “They were functionally obsolete. The land and location is too valuable,” he said.
Other projects developed or to be developed by Tetrad include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska's headquarters in Aksarben Village, the University of Nebraska Medical Center's new Cancer Center and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Innovation Campus.
Also as part of the West Center Road project, the developer proposes a new, wider access ramp on West Center Road connecting to 72nd Street that would create a four-way intersection with a traffic light at 71st Street east of the existing entrance to the development. The lot currently is accessible only to westbound traffic. City traffic engineer Murthy Koti said there may be more minor tweaks and adjustments to the plan, but the overall concept has been approved.
The original office park, named Mid-America Plaza, was completed in the early 1970s. It included four office buildings that at some point were home to a Nebraska National Guard armory, the Insurance Exchange Building, the Xerox Building, Pitney-Bowes Inc. and Midtown Motors of Omaha. Two of the buildings remain.
The most recently demolished building probably was best known for housing Social Security Administration offices before they moved about six years ago to the Old Mill area just north of West Dodge Road at 108th Street.