The final piece of the $205 million Capitol District project has launched — and the new glassy office structure featuring rooftop decks is being held out as a sign of confidence in downtown job growth.
Slated to be done by mid-2020, the three-story building will contain nearly 47,000 square feet and is rising as a speculative project, meaning there are no secured office tenants. Investors, rather, are counting on the old adage: Build it and they will come.
“We’re at the point, as a city and as a downtown, that there is enough interest for a developer to spec an office building — which is cool,” said Steve Sheppard, of CBRE/Mega Real Estate.
Sheppard and Ryan Ellis of PJ Morgan Real Estate, who are teaming up as the office project’s leasing agents, said they can’t remember the last time another office building was constructed in downtown without an anchor tenant first being on board.
Indeed, most of the metro area’s new office space in recent years has gone up in suburban areas. Of about 15 office buildings that trend-watcher CoStar Group tracks as under construction this year in Omaha, only one is in downtown. That list, though, didn’t include the future Kiewit Corp. campus, which is in progress in north downtown.
Faith in the downtown office market is driven in part by ongoing landscape improvements, including riverfront revitalization efforts and the remake of the Gene Leahy Mall. Sheppard and Ellis say young talent wants to live in active urban areas, and companies increasingly are seeking ways to tap that demographic group.
“The younger workforce wants amenities,” Ellis said. “They want to be able to walk to lunch, to happy hour after work. It makes sense to have real estate closer to them.”
He and Sheppard also tout convenient and ample parking, saying that tenants of the new Offices at the Capitol District would have parking space equal to office complexes in the suburbs.
They cite accessibility to Eppley Airfield, the Interstate and public transit options. They also point to the office building’s location within the entertainment-focused Capitol District, which hosts various outdoor events and programs throughout the year including concerts and classic movie nights.
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As of today, about 75% of the retail space in the Capitol District redevelopment site is occupied, said Mike Moylan of Shamrock Development, which led the overall project. The first floor of the new office building also is to be retail space, he said.
Of the dozen businesses around the district’s outdoor plaza, the newest are Epoca Cantina and the Jewell jazz club. Retailers also include a coffee shop, pizzeria, steakhouse and themed bars.
When completed, the new office building will line the southern border of the Capitol District redevelopment project site. Along 10th Street north of Capitol Avenue is a full-service Marriott Hotel. A 218-unit high-rise apartment structure runs along 11th Street, and a parking garage and a row of retail bays are on the project site’s northern side.
Those major pieces of the Capitol District project surround the football field-sized outdoor plaza area that is dotted with tables and has a big-screen TV. The social area, which can fit 1,500 to 2,000 people, is just outside the doors of the future Offices at the Capitol District.
First envisioned in 2011, the Capitol District redevelopment project was spearheaded by Moylan’s Shamrock Development and principal investor Paul Smith. Smith also is behind the Millwork Commons, an effort to create a high-tech job hub in north downtown.
Shamrock was picked over two competing bidders to develop the city-owned tract. At the time, Shamrock already had a footprint at the 10th and Capitol area, having redeveloped the 1009 Capitol Building and 1000 Dodge Building into condos and bars. The developer had started to market the neighborhood, which includes other venues such as DJ’s Dugout, as the Capitol District.
Progress was slowed early on as the development team worked to find a hotelier willing to open a full-service facility, and to obtain financing. Disappointment struck when Omaha-based HDR engineering and architectural firm switched its previous plan to build a new corporate headquarters just south of the Capitol District project, instead making its new home for about 1,000 workers at central Omaha’s Aksarben Village.
Moylan, who has developed multiple other sites in downtown, said he is thrilled to see construction work start at the dirt hole that had been cordoned off along Capitol Avenue.
“We always knew it would be a staged development,” he said of the overall initiative. “To have the last and final building under construction is extremely exciting.”
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There was plan after plan to renovate the Logan Hotel, a historic building at 18th and Dodge Streets. A local architectural firm worked 15 years to see the structure survive.
People familiar with downtown real estate trends expect retailers — including specialty clothing, novelty shops, service retailers and even a grocery store — to increasingly fill north downtown gaps as more apartment dwellers come to the area and daytime workforces multiply. At the moment, vintage home décor store Prairies in Bloom is rather lonely at 17th and Cuming Streets. READ MORE
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Newcomers are changing the face of 13th Street as Donut Stop closes and a new, hip joint moves in. READ MORE
A midtown Omaha hotel property that in recent years can’t seem to stick with an identity now has a new owner and is poised to become a Four Points by Sheraton. READ MORE
A South Omaha industrial site is poised to see new and big activity as the future headquarters of Elliott Equipment Co. READ MORE.
A $300 million redevelopment project named Millwork Commons is expected to bring new life and business back to an old industrial tract of north downtown Omaha. READ MORE
A hotel-condo project, a retail center and an apartment complex are among developments helping to fill gaps along or just off of Omaha's busy West Dodge thoroughfare. READ MORE.
A downtown building constructed in 1923 that once housed a cigar shop is to be restored in a $2.38 million project. READ MORE
A local development team has been quietly assembling property to make way for a new retail and housing district on a sleepy southwest fringe of downtown Omaha. But the build-out of that proposed mixed-use Flatiron District is “on pause” given uncertainty over what might rise on a nearby block that Douglas County has targeted for a youth detention facility. READ MORE.
Former Creighton University-turned-NBA baller Anthony Tolliver is bouncing back into town with a planned 150-unit apartment complex near Elkhorn. READ MORE.
A tavern in the form of a tiny house is preparing to open on 13th Street south of downtown Omaha. Called the Tiny House, the bar at 1411 S. 13th St. is being launched by a group including the real estate duo leading the broader effort to revive that section of Little Bohemia. READ MORE.
A hotel, a sports bar and bunches of other retailers soon will start filling out a corner of the Antler View mixed-use development near 192nd Street and West Maple Road. READ MORE
A trendy row house project is to sprout south of downtown Omaha where a family’s flower shop and greenhouse operation once stood. READ MORE
Picking up a development plan that was in place when Security National Bank started building its headquarters in 1999, SNB leaders are planning a new building at One Pacific Place. READ MORE
A $22.2 million housing development called the Bos is going up in the Morton Meadows neighborhood. 158 dwellings are planned for the 2.6-acre site near Saddle Creek Road and Pacific Street. READ MORE
The number of hotel rooms in the Omaha area has jumped about 16 percent in the past five years — higher than the 7 percent increase for the United States over the same period. READ MORE
A new redevelopment plan has emerged for a much-talked-about corner just south of downtown Omaha. Housing remains the proposed use for the acre of land southeast of 10th and Pierce Streets. READ MORE
As once happened for Florence, Benson, Irvington and a handful of other small towns, the buffer between Omaha and Bennington is disappearing. Families are flocking to the outskirts of town, building homes in brand new neighborhoods with brand new schools in the Bennington school district. READ MORE
Loft apartments and rehabbed commercial bays are poised to pop up along Omaha’s historic Auto Row — a stretch once bustling with showrooms of Studebakers, Hudsons and other classic cars. READ MORE
The midtown Omaha campus of the Atlas stands out not only for sheer size, but also its $108 million conversion from a sterile hospital. A mix of retail and residential residents have already started moving in. READ MORE
Sweeping change in Omaha's Little Italy area has neighbors banding together to make sure they have a say in future development. READ MORE.
After Eppley Airfield recorded its busiest month ever in May, airport officials are beginning the next stage of planning for future renovations and expansion. READ MORE
The century-old Blackstone Hotel, most recently used as an office building in midtown Omaha, is poised to be resurrected to its original use under a nearly $75 million plan by two Omaha developers. READ MORE
The Douglas County Board will consider using eminent domain to acquire a property near 18th and Howard Streets for its proposed $120 million juvenile justice center. Read more
The 130-year-old St. Agnes Catholic Church and related buildings appear headed for the same fate as a few other Omaha parishes in the past few years: The campus at 23rd and Q Streets has been sold to a developer who expects to replace it with rental housing. READ MORE.
A familiar Old Market warehouse — the 133-year-old Woolworth building — is now 44 residences. The homes were carved out of the top three floors of the five-story structure on the northeast corner of 12th and Howard Streets. READ MORE.
All Makes Office Equipment witnesses a revival of Omaha's Farnam Street corridor. READ MORE.
A $13 million headquarters for OCI is set to rise northeast of 204th Street and West Maple Road. READ MORE.
A growing Omaha-based Baxter Auto Group is revving up with a new corporate headquarters to be built northwest of 168th Street and West Dodge Road, near three dealership structures the company currently has under construction. READ MORE.
Several projects in the works could bring bustle back to Omaha's 16th Street corridor. READ MORE.
A company that builds senior living communities has staked out an 8-acre spot on Omaha’s sprawling West Farm development. The Avamere Family of Companies, based in the Portland, Oregon, area plans an $84 million project featuring a pair of upscale residential structures with independent senior living, assisted living and memory care units spanning 325,000 square feet. READ MORE.
The former Creighton University Medical Center is becoming the state's largest single structure of market-rate apartments, near 30th and Cuming. READ MORE.
Officials continue to move closer to developing Lot B, an 8-acre piece of downtown real estate near the CenturyLink Center. Plans calls for a $125 million mixed-use development with restaurants, stores, apartments, open spaces and possibly another hotel. READ MORE.
NuStyle Development is poised to convert another downtown Omaha building into housing — replacing much of the Wells Fargo Bank center at 1919 Douglas St. with about 200 apartments and indoor parking. READ MORE.
The 30 Metro residential and retail complex brings a five-story, $20 million investment to North 30th and Fort Streets. The building includes 110 apartments, 12,000 square feet of commercial bays — and the Icona, a sculpture that stands near the entrance to the 113,000-square-foot complex. READ MORE.
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska plans to move its health clinic and administrative offices from South Omaha to the vacant former Infogroup headquarters campus near 84th and Q Streets. READ MORE.
Omaha's Intercultural Senior Center is building a 22,000-square-foot facility at 5545 Center St. Construction on the $6.2 million project is expected to be done by 2019. READ MORE.
Alvine Engineering is settling into a new home at 12th and Cass Streets, about four blocks north of the 127-year-old digs it had been in for three decades. The facility marks the first corporate headquarters to be constructed in that downtown area since 2013 when a $44 million, 130,500-square-foot facility at 13th Street and Capitol Avenue was built for grain-trader Gavilon. READ MORE.
Omaha’s movers and shakers, with more than half the funds pledged privately, are forging ahead with a $290 million proposal to breathe new life into the city’s downtown riverfront. A conceptual master plan calls for adding spacious lawns for events, a Farnam Street walking promenade that stretches past Eighth Street to the river, a ribbon-shaped rink for ice skating and rollerblading, a water plaza where kids can play and splash, and a dog park. READ MORE.
The Rohwer family is one of the last farm families on 204th Street, one of the final few trying to straddle the fuzzy line between this area’s rural past and suburban present. "My life is farming," said Alan Rohwer. "My life is this land." READ MORE.
Omaha-based Metonic Real Estate Solutions helped refine a project it thinks will target an unmet demand in the west Omaha area. Ravello 192, as it’s called, is planned as a sprawling 11-building town house development offering private entrances and garages for each of the 118 rental residences. READ MORE.
Rising southeast of 10th Street and Capitol Avenue is a six-story mostly residential structure with ground-floor commercial bays. Capitol Place, as the $27 million project is called, is the dream of two former city officials who are shedding a suburban lifestyle to help build Omaha’s downtown central business district. READ MORE.
Two heavy-hitter youth athletic organizations are teaming up to help build a $10 million Elkhorn facility set to sprawl across 135,000 square feet and host up to 400,000 visitors a year. READ MORE.
The century-old farm at 162nd and Fort Streets, which has evolved into mostly rental space for a landscaper, car fanciers and storage-seekers, is at risk. Omaha officials want the operations shut down, citing concerns with permits, zoning, life safety. READ MORE.
Urban Village Development is set to build 167 apartments on the site of the former Grace University administration and dorm structure at 1311 S. 9th St. READ MORE.