A City of Omaha commitment to build a 400-space parking complex has accelerated a private effort to transform land east of Midtown Crossing into a multi-block office park.
Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos., as master developer, is working with Mutual of Omaha on the so-called Turner Park East mixed-use project that is to be heavy on office space but also feature a six-story hotel and apartments.
Details, including the cost of various components of the development, still are being refined, said Brad Schoenfelder, president of Ryan’s Midwest region. He wouldn’t give a ballpark estimate.
But he told The World-Herald on Tuesday that the city’s participation is “kicking” forward the first phase and sparking the developer to launch a formal search for tenants in its first office structure: a 150,000-square-foot building to rise south of Farnam Street and east of Turner Boulevard.
Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement that the city agreed to build and manage a parking structure as part of the project.
“This will be another public-private partnership that allows us to invest in the future of our urban core,” Stothert said.
Ken Smith, the city’s parking manager, said the structure would be paid for with parking revenue bonds. Those are bonds that are issued and then paid off from fees collected at city garages and parking meters.
He said a total cost hadn’t been nailed down, but using rough math that parking garages typically cost between $17,000 and $20,000 per spot to build, the Turner Park East garage could cost around $6.8 million to $8 million.
The parking facility would be on the city block north of Farnam and east of Turner Park. It would share a block with a proposed 98-room hotel and 118-unit apartment building, as well as the existing 11-story Condos at 3000 Farnam, the remaining building of the former Twin Towers.
Access to parking should facilitate continued redevelopment of the Farnam Street corridor, the mayor said.
The city’s contribution is the latest update to the Turner Park East effort, which began more than three years ago as Mutual’s real estate arm began to buy up a swath of properties on both sides of Farnam east of Mutual of Omaha’s 15-acre Midtown Crossing.
Numerous buildings in that area have been razed as Mutual assembled a tract that it intends to turn over to Ryan for the development.
For now, Ryan Cos. is concentrating on blocks closest to Mutual’s Midtown Crossing campus, but the assembled land extends farther, bounded generally by Turner Boulevard, Interstate 480, Douglas and Harney Streets.
Schoenfelder on Tuesday outlined another office piece: It would contain about 100,000 square feet and be marketed for a single business user. That facility would rise on the site of the former Clarinda and Page apartment buildings, just west of the 150,000-square-foot building.
If all goes as planned, the developer would break ground on the first office structure yet this year.
Ryan Cos. also could be involved in the possible transformation of the Marcus Midtown Cinema into professional offices, which is not specifically part of the Turner Park East effort.
Mutual is considering converting the theater into about 60,000 square feet of offices, and already has had interest that could fill a fourth of the building, said Ken Cook, who leads Mutual’s real estate arm, East Campus Realty LLC.
Cook said that Mutual will make a decision by October on whether to repurpose the property.
Such interest for office space is an indicator of demand churning the Turner Park East project, Schoenfelder said.
Cook said the $365 million Midtown Crossing development features retail and residential, but did not include office space for lease.
Bringing additional office buildings is expected to draw more workers, more shoppers and more life to an area that’s also a focus of the new Midtown 2050 group, formed to guide and bolster midtown growth, he said. A proposed streetcar would pass by the development.
“It’s jobs, sales, commercial activity,” Cook said. “It’s more people who want to live here, it’s moving back to the core to have an urban experience.”
Cook has said that Mutual had hoped for a greater ripple effect from its Midtown Crossing investment and more economic development between its campus and the Interstate. Company leaders wanted to remove the barrier — by assembling a critical mass of parcels from various property owners — to help spur someone like Ryan Cos. to come in and create a commercial enterprise.
Cook, also chairman of the Midtown 2050 board, said that group’s team of planners identified a demand over time for a “substantial amount” of varied office types, including medical-related businesses, that would create more vertical population density.
Midtown 2050 is backed also by the fast-expanding University of Nebraska Medical Center and groups such as Kiewit Corp., Creighton University and the philanthropic nonprofit Heritage Services.
Schoenfelder has said the proposal requires buy-in from residents of the Condos at 3000 Farnam, which sits on the block upon which the parking garage, hotel and apartments would be built. It would remain and probably have some spots in the new garage.
Conversations with the condo association are ongoing, Schoenfelder and Cook said. They said they’re optimistic and that discussions with condo owners should advance further as soon as the city formalizes parking details.
World-Herald staff writer Roseann Moring contributed to this report.