Now 10 years old, a growing Mutual of Omaha Bank is moving its corporate operations on up to the top floors of a downtown office tower.
About 150 bank employees this fall are to settle in nearly 30,000 square feet of the 15-story Landmark building. The bank will keep a retail and commercial presence and about 50 employees at its midtown site on the campus of parent insurance company Mutual of Omaha.
Chief Executive Jeff Schmid says the new downtown headquarters is both a sign of the bank’s progress and its commitment to energizing the central business district.
Mutual earlier helped Avaden Landmark LLC, an investment group led by real estate executive Jason Fisher, acquire the Landmark complex at 13th and Farnam Streets.
“It’s smack dab in the middle of all that’s happening,” Schmid said. “It will be fabulous space, great for clients.”
The bank’s move to the high-rise that had been sitting half empty since about 2015 is among the bright spots in the downtown office market. The Landmark runs alongside the Gene Leahy Mall, which is among focus areas of a Heritage Services-led business group “imagining” ways to reinvigorate the riverfront.
Barry Zoob, senior vice president of Omaha’s Colliers International, believes growth of downtown real estate hinges on creating a tourist magnet, perhaps one that includes a science museum or baseball hall of fame, on the riverfront.
“The riverfront will set the stage for how we brand the city,” he said. “What we do there is going to be incredibly important.”
David Brown, president of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, said a busy downtown filled 24/7 with workers, residents and retail activity is important as it says a lot about the health and culture of a community.
“It’s a barometer of what kind of a city you’re really in,” he said. “It represents the soul of your community.”
The chamber’s home of 35 years at 13th and Harney Streets also is up for sale, as it prepares to move into space on the Conagra campus. Six bidders submitted development proposals for the 20,000-square-foot office building on a half-block that includes an outdoor courtyard.
Proposals include a hotel and parking garage, a business seeking a home for its own workers, and a mixed-use proposal with parking, street-level retail and upper-level housing.
Other downtown progress includes planned rehabilitation of a warehouse at 14th and Jones Streets, which White Lotus Group aims to convert into an “innovation” Hub 1401 with creative office space, a coffee and roasting operation, a brewery and a rooftop deck.
White Lotus’ Arun Agarwal is seeking tenants, and says the near-Old Market site is suited for a company with a few hundred employees looking for a funky historical vibe.
Elsewhere in downtown, Alvine and Associates soon will move into about 35,000 square feet of office space in a just-built five-story building at 1207 Cass St. (The engineering company now is a few blocks away at 11th and Douglas Streets.). Apartments will open this month in the mixed-use structure that also has retail bays and was developed in partnership with Lanoha Development.
At 14th and Howard Streets, Flywheel co-founder Dusty Davidson took over the building vacated by Patrick’s Market. He said he plans to hire 100 more people this year to add to its 120-person website hosting workforce.
Davidson, who also leases space at 14th and Harney Streets and about 3,000 square feet in another building nearby, said he is “bullish” on downtown, even if it means spreading out over three different buildings and paying for employee parking spaces.
“Our office ... in the downtown creative environment is core to who we are,” he said.
At the Landmark building, Schmid said he hopes to grow Mutual of Omaha Bank from assets of $8 billion to $10 billion in the next few years. Because of its relatively young age, he said, the institution doesn’t have as much traditional bricks and mortar “burden” as many other banks, and is able to focus on growing its technology side.
“If you think about it, the new bank branch is really on your desktop, your phone — that’s the new delivery model,” he said.
Nationally, Mutual of Omaha Bank has about 1,000 employees, Schmid said, and a major financial technology center in the Tempe, Arizona, area.
He’s optimistic the Landmark’s remaining floor will fill up. Four other vacant floors are to become hotel rooms.
“Its time is coming,” he said.
World-Herald staff writer Paige Yowell contributed to this report.