What is the future of Con Agra's campus?

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 12:01:59-04

Emily Beckner walked her dog in the green space of Con Agra’s corporate campus in downtown Omaha Thursday just hours after news surfaced that the company would vacate two of its main buildings as it moves headquarters to Chicago.

Beckner knew about the move, but admitted she has not followed the news closely these past months. But said she takes advantage of the campus at least twice a day walking her dog in the space which has become downtown Omaha’s backyard.

“We certainly don't have a yard or any green space with our department so we're dependent on the green space downtown,” Beckner said.

The company confirmed to the Omaha World Herald that it would not use the two buildings closest to 10th street once it relocates. That has downtown stakeholders waiting for the next step, which could be redevelopment.

“I really hope we take a 50-year approach with that site and [go with] the first opportunity that comes along,” said R.J. Neary of commercial real estate firm Investors Realty Inc. “

Though no plan has publicly surfaced, according to Neary, opportunities for the site could be varied.

It sites between Omaha’s Old Market and a burgeoning new entertainment district at 10th and Capitol, which also connects to North Downtown attractions like Century Link Center and TD Ameritrade Park.

“At lunch time, they can go to the Old Market, go to events at night, great views of a lake and the river. All those things are attractive to any corporation or tenant that would like to attract employees,” Neary said.

If the buildings are demolished, he believes new development would have a new footprint that could include straightening crooked streets that led into the campus. He also said the new buildings would likely follow a mixed-use model common for redevelopment.

“Ideally it would be more mixed-use, and make it an 18-hour day environment in the Old Market and business campus to further the whole downtown vibe,” he said.

Beckner said she wouldn’t mind more businesses and entertainment options in the area, but hoped any new plans would preserve some green space too.

“Even if we didn't have a dog, it's so nice to be able to walk around and have a beautiful lake. Any time we have someone come to visit we say, ‘Look how cool this is, two blocks from our apartment,’” she said.