Adam Watson said he bought a run-down retail strip in downtown Millard even before word got out about the $55 million Lumberyard District that was to be built nearby.

Watson said the structure at 136th and Cottner Streets was in a community where houses didn’t turn over much, and he figured it was a matter of time before commercial activity picked up.

He and a business partner in Millard Group LLC divided into eight bays the $430,000 property that had once housed a small engine company, and fixed up the exterior.

Buoyed by recent development in the area, including the Omaha Police Department’s southwest precinct, the retail strip now has filled up with newcomers including Bernie’s Pizza and Adore salon.

A bar in the strip changed hands a couple of years ago, he said, and is now the Sociable Inn. Sasha Models is in the mix, as is a Wood Is Good store. A longtime barbershop stayed put. Another bay has opened for lease after a sportswear shop outgrew its space and moved.

Meanwhile, the Lumberyard District’s nearly 350 apartments are about 90% occupied, said developer Jason Lanoha. He said he’s looking for one more bar-and-grill-type tenant to finish out the retail and office space.