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$57 million office and retail structure on deck for north downtown Omaha’s Builder’s District

Developer says it is on pace to be area’s first timber commercial structure
Posted at 10:36 AM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 11:43:53-04

OMAHA, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — A nearly $57 million office and retail project, on pace to be the city’s first timber commercial structure in modern times, is to start rising yet this year in the Builder’s District of north downtown Omaha.

Developer Noddle Cos. is requesting city approval of public tax increment financing, about 10% of the price tag, to launch the project southwest of 15th and Mike Fahey Streets.

As proposed, the four-story building would span 115,000 square feet — and contain mostly offices, with about 14,000 square feet of street-level space for retail, restaurants and other commercial uses.

Topping off the project are rooftop decks. Between those decks, which cover two wings of the overall structure, will be an open plaza with gathering areas and trees.

Neighbor to Kiewit headquarters

Known in city documents as the 1501 Mike Fahey plan, the project is located within the developing Builder’s District, currently anchored by the seven-story worldwide headquarters of Kiewit Corp. The Fortune 500 company finished its nearly $90 million corporate offices in 2021.

Jay Noddle, CEO of Noddle Cos., told the Nebraska Examiner that the 1501 complex kicks off the next wave of the Builder’s District that later is also to include a condo project, apartments and an urban park. When fully completed in years to come, he said, investment in the district is expected to be $350 million to $400 million.

“What this means is the Builder’s District is ready for the next round of development,” Noddle said. “We are really excited about it. We’ve got a lot of interest in the development, and in this next building in particular.”

No tenants have been publicly identified for the multi-tenant 1501 complex, which is to begin construction in September. Noddle said “serious” negotiations are ongoing.

According to planning documents, the 1501 is to be built on four parcels and an alleyway that spreads over nearly an acre. Not far away are public amenities such as the ballpark that’s home to the College World Series, to the east. The developing Millwork Commons neighborhood is to the north.

Creighton University has a growing presence in the area.

Because the 1501 is in an area designated by the city as extremely blighted, it qualifies for tax increment financing. The developer says in city paperwork that the project would not be feasible without TIF.

The TIF request is to be presented to the Planning Board on Wednesday for its recommendation, after which it goes on to the City Council.

If approved, new property tax revenue generated as a result of the project would be directed to pay off a 20-year TIF loan. After the TIF period expires, the property tax revenue then would start flowing to traditional recipients, such as local school districts and other local governments.

Projected to wrap up by 2024

Noddle Cos. estimates the final valuation of the 1501 project, when completed, to be nearly $37 million.

City planners said in a memo that the project is consistent with several goals in the city’s master plan, including promoting jobs, encouraging private investment and providing activities and destinations within the downtown and riverfront areas.

It said the project furthers the master plan vision for redevelopment of the north downtown area into “one of Omaha’s most exciting, urban neighborhoods” that is “characterized by pedestrian-oriented, mixed use development.”

According to the application, the developer expects the 1501 project to create 232 non-construction jobs.

Parking is to be designated on an existing surface lot on the block west of the project site until that site is developed and a new parking structure is built immediately south of the 1501 project.

Site and remediation work is to begin in advance of the anticipated September construction start and the project, according to city applications, would wrap up by 2024.

Noddle said he believes the 1501 would be the metro area’s first modern commercial structure made substantially of a contemporary mass timber product. (Another timber commercial property is planned by Hines near 9th and Farnam Streets, but that developer says construction will wait for tenants to be signed on.)

Noddle said that the 1501 will not be 100% mass timber but that visible parts would be the timber product he describes as more sustainable and responsible than a more typical newly constructed building.

Moreover, said Noddle, growth of the Builder’s District “balances out” the downtown urban core, where much attention has been paid of late to the renovated Gene Leahy Mall and proposed $600 million Mutual of Omaha tower that will replace the W. Dale Clark Library at 15th and Farnam Streets.

“The Builder’s District demonstrates there can and will be a lot of very viable and successful development in the core that is not necessarily on the street car route,” Noddle said.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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