After about an eight-month pause, Applied Underwriters has good news: It plans to restart construction of its roughly $200 million operations hub at the west Omaha Heartwood Preserve.
The national workers' compensation insurer last September suspended construction of the anchor project, in part to "protect" workers and suppliers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Company spokesman Bart Emanuel said this past week that, after observing federal pandemic guidelines and increased vaccinations, Applied is comfortable with resuming work at the 50-acre office campus southwest of 144th and Pacific Streets.
Work is to resume in June. Emanuel, director of development and construction, said he expects up to 150 workers at the building site when things return to full swing.
"It takes time to get a project of this size ramped up again," he said. "A lot of these (contractors) were off on other projects."
The first phase — constructing about 260,000 square feet of office space for up to 1,000 employees — now is projected to wrap up in spring of 2023, Emanuel said.
The next phases, to be built as needed, would add another 200,000 square feet for another 1,000 workers.
In addition to building its new operations center at that spot, Applied is developer and owner of the overall Heartwood Preserve redevelopment area that spans some 500 acres.
Heartwood Preserve is home also to other new corporate facilities including the headquarters for Carson Group and Valmont Industries. Lanoha Real Estate Co. has announced a $500 million town center.
Other pieces of the Heartwood land are being claimed and some new tenants will be identified soon, said Emanuel.
Originally, Emanuel predicted construction to stall for three to six months. He said that during the past eight or so months, Applied leaders also were reviewing the building's design and other details in light of COVID. He said the company has not downsized its plan, and will move forward with the same vision that calls for open floor plans and high ceilings.
Steve Menzies, chairman of Applied Underwriters, said in a statement that the national workers compensation insurer had been eager to finish the new complex, but "sided with precaution and used careful risk management and protocols."