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UNMC's Saddle Creek project seeks $8.1 million in tax-increment financing

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Later this spring, University of Nebraska Medical Center officials expect to choose a developer to renovate a historic industrial property on the west side of Saddle Creek Road, creating an “innovation hub” where researchers could transform ideas into new ventures.

One of the development teams tapped to transform the midtown Omaha Saddle Creek redevelopment site has requested $8.1 million in tax-increment financing to help cover costs of that piece of the campus.

The TIF amount, which applies to the renovation and repurposing of two existing buildings at the former Steel Castings workplace, is among new details disclosed in documents presented last week to the City Planning Board.

In all, the redevelopment area stretches some 25 acres southwest of Saddle Creek Road and Farnam Street. As planned, it will extend the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus with offices, housing, hotels, retailers and elements related to the medical industry.

Specifically, the TIF request applies to a 3-acre chunk slated to become an "innovation hub." Omaha-based GreenSlate Development and Denver's Koelbel and Co. plan to retrofit the two industrial structures, built in the early 1900s, into a hub that houses businesses, an event hall, a food hall and more.

The hub is modeled after the Catalyst Healthcare Tech Innovation building in Denver, which brings together businesses from across the health and wellness industries. 

KCGS Saddle Creek LLC (the name of the joint legal entity) is just one development team involved in the UNMC expansion. Another team, for instance, is building a neighboring 350,000-square-foot administrative facility.

The new planning documents also show that the KCGS piece is expected to bring 670 full-time jobs to the area, about half of which would be relocated and the rest newly created from expansions and startups.

Investment in the hub piece is now anticipated to be about $54 million.

The Planning Board has recommended approval of the TIF request, and it now goes to the City Council for final approval. 

TIF is an incentive used by the city to spur economic activity in "blighted" areas. TIF can be controversial, as the loans are paid back with increased tax revenue generated on the new or improved property. Normally, property tax payments go to support schools, cities, counties and other local tax-reliant governments.

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Reporter - Money

Cindy covers housing, commercial real estate development and more for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @cgonzalez_owh. Phone: 402-444-1224.

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