Papillion Commons

The plan for the proposed Papillion Commons

About 3 miles down the road from La Vista’s City Centre redevelopment, a developer is envisioning a similar mixed-use project in Papillion.

Papillion Commons, an estimated $113 million undertaking, would sit on 110 acres between 84th and 90th Streets and north of Nebraska Highway 370. Preliminary plans include apartments, retail, office space, trails, park and plaza spaces, restaurants, a hotel, an assisted-living facility, a day care and a movie theater.

Today, that corner is home to a water tower and farm fields.

“Obviously, this is an important corner in the City of Papillion,” said Larry Jobeun, an attorney for Royce Enterprises, the developer. “Everyone wants to be proud of this corner, of how it’s developed. We do too.”

The project is outside the city limits, in a sanitary improvement district, but it is inside Papillion’s zoning jurisdiction.

Papillion Commons cleared some initial hurdles with the City of Papillion at a Feb. 6 meeting, when preliminary plans and a city comprehensive plan change were approved. The initial agreement calls for about a $2.4 million contribution from Papillion in the form of infrastructure improvements. That could change as plans are finalized.

But there were some rocky moments.

During the two-hour meeting, City Council members questioned the impact of Papillion Commons on existing retail options in town. Some members expressed concern that Papillion Commons would steal existing retailers from elsewhere in the city, particularly as the retail industry as a whole struggles.

As a result, they voted to add a non-compete agreement to prevent existing Papillion retailers of a certain size from moving to the new development during its first few years.

Jobeun pushed back against the idea of a non-compete agreement, saying the development would not be pursuing existing retailers anyway.

“I don’t think it’s the place of the council to pick winners and losers. And if you do truly believe in the free-market system, how could you ever agree to a non-compete?” Jobeun said.

The council voted 4-3 in support of the amendment. Existing retailers, however, could go to the council to get approval to move. Troy Florance, James Glover, Gene Jaworski and Lu Ann Kluch voted to support the amendment, and Bob Stubbe, Jason Gaines and Tom Mumgaard voted against it.

Jobeun called the move “incredibly unorthodox.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, and it could cause a “monster problem” for the development.

Jaworski said that if the development is bringing in outside retailers, as is planned, then it won’t affect them.

“It’s really not going to hurt you guys,” he said. “It’s going to give us peace of mind.”

The amended preliminary plat passed unanimously.

The project’s final plat goes before the planning commission Feb. 28. There’s no date yet for that to come before City Council.

The city and developers are continuing to negotiate portions of the project, including the non-compete agreement.

Bob Begley with Lockwood Development, which is working on the project, said that if city approvals aren’t delayed, grading the site in could begin in August. Buildings could start going up in spring 2019.

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