The Nebraska Furniture Mart's new corporate headquarters has plenty of light and plenty of space — enough for 40 more new employees.
That's in addition to the 160 workers who have moved into the new offices at 808 S. 74th Plaza.
The homegrown Omaha retailer, which already has hired about 10 people this year, plans to hire an additional 166 corporate support employees during the next 18 months.
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The new workers will not only support local retail growth but also the company's expansion into the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where it is building its third, and largest, full-line store, said Bob Batt, the electronics and furniture retailer's executive vice president, who presided over Wednesday's ribbon-cutting.
The plan is to have all new Omaha hires in place a few months before the Texas store opens in May 2015, Batt said. He said the new hires will move into either the new headquarters or the company's former corporate offices, spread throughout the Omaha campus at 700 S. 72nd St.
The Mart plans to hire new employees at a steady but measured pace. In the next few months it plans to add another 10 employees in its online sales division and then another 10 in credit and collections, Batt said.
“We're creating new jobs in information technology, payables, accounting and customer service,” Batt said.
During Wednesday's ribbon-cutting, sunlight streamed through the skylight and windows highlighting the building's color scheme — deep lime green accented with red and gray.
More than 100 people attended the dedication of the new headquarters, including Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, who used an oversized scissors to cut the ribbon.
“I know you're expanding into Texas,” Stothert said, “but when you keep your headquarters here, we all benefit.”
The Mart purchased the two-story, 44,000-square-foot building last June for $1.2 million, said Ryan Blumkin, the retailer's real estate development director and one of the company's fourth-generation executives.
“You should have seen it, the exterior was covered with graffiti,” Blumkin said. The renovation cost $7.4 million and required contractors to gut the building, which had been vacant for nearly three years, he said.
Batt said it will be called the 808 Building.
The Mart also announced Wednesday that it is donating $650,000 to the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department to replace the old, weathered railroad bridge that spans Little Papio Creek with a new pedestrian bridge. The money also will be used to spruce up the connecting paths that lead to the Keystone trail, said Dennis Bryers, a park planner with the Parks Department.
The new steel bridge will allow workers and the public easy access to and from the Mart's sprawling retail campus. The bridge is expected to be finished by Thanksgiving, Batt said.
Stothert praised the project as the “perfect example of the public-private partnerships that
have occurred in Omaha and will hopefully occur in the future.” The new bridge and spruced-up trails will benefit not only the Mart but also the public, Stothert said.
Mike Menke, who owns an office building next to the Mart's new headquarters, said he was happy to see the building and surrounding property revived.
“You couldn't ask for better neighbors,” Menke said.