For more than 15 years, various real estate types had been eyeing the sprawling DeMarco farmland that stood out like redevelopment gold inside Omaha’s city limits.

But it was Michael Miller of Omaha’s Colliers International who stayed in touch with the family, built a trust since 2003, and sipped many a glass of orange juice at the farm’s kitchen table.

It paid off when he and Colliers colleague Kyle Peterson landed a client whose goals jelled nicely with what the DeMarcos wanted for the 220 acres southwest of 144th and Pacific Streets that the family long called home.

As Miller recalls it, the DeMarcos were impressed with Applied Underwriters’ vision to turn the property into a home, too — a high-end campus for up to 800 employees of the Berkshire Hathaway affiliate who’d be connected to trails, housing and retail corridors.

“It would be a legacy development, something they could point to and say our family farm was there for generations,” Miller said.

Cinching the land transaction included face-to-face conversations between the DeMarcos and Applied founders and assurances that a neighboring church could expand and that the DeMarco farmhouse could remain on-site until the family chose otherwise.

The personal and professional touches that led to the sale — and ultimately a broader development site that encompasses the former Boys Town West Farm — has yielded Miller and Peterson the “deal of the year” award to be presented Friday at Omaha’s CRE Summit.

Expected to draw 1,000 real estate and business leaders, the 29th annual all-day conference at the CenturyLink Center will explore topics such as: driverless cars, the future of parking, streetcars, economic development challenges and how to take the metro area “to the next level.”

Founded by Omaha real estate attorney Jerry Slusky of Smith, Slusky, Pohren & Rogers, the summit for the past four years has partnered with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

Friday’s featured speakers include Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos, who’ll talk about building a winning team; former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub; Quinn Texmo of JEO Consulting; and Tanya Shapiro of Cushman & Wakefield/the Lund Co.

A highlight is the Hall of Fame luncheon that this year will honor five heavyweights of the local commercial real estate industry: Barry Zoob, senior vice president at Colliers; R.J. Neary, president at Investors Realty; Robert Freeman, partner at Fraser Stryker law firm; George Hancock, associate broker, NAI FMA Realty; and LeGrande “Mac” McGregor, founder of McGregor Interests Inc.

Shamrock Development’s Capitol District project is to receive the Omaha “development of the year” award. The equivalent honor for a Lincoln project will go to Hudl headquarters developed by WRK, Speedway Properties, Nelnet and Chief Industries.

Omaha-based Kiewit Corp. was selected for the Summit Award, which honors “extraordinary impact” on local real estate development. A committee selected the company based on contributions to employment, technology and community investment.

In Nebraska more than 130 years, Kiewit last year opened its new Kiewit University training center in north downtown and plans to build, on adjacent land, a corporate headquarters as large as 185,000 square feet.

Kiewit spends more than $300 million annually to support its headquarters and operations in Nebraska, said spokesman Tom Janssen, and its foundation contributes more than $3 million each year to area community charities.

For more information on Friday’s conference and how to register, go to:

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