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Westwood Plaza additions will try to lure drivers off West Center

Westwood Plaza additions will try to lure drivers off West Center

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As many as six or seven new retail businesses could be added to Westwood Plaza when a new building is completed in mid-2015 at the shopping center southwest of 120th Street and West Center Road.

Seldin Co. will construct an 11,500-square-foot building on the former site of a McDonald’s, between McAlister’s Deli and IHOP. Affiliated firm World Group will handle leasing and management.

All bays in the new strip will face West Center Road, which World Group said sees daily traffic counts of 77,000 vehicles.

“Retail occupancy is very good in the West Center corridor,” said Randy Lenhoff, chief executive officer of the companies. He said Westwood Plaza is 92 percent leased.

Lenhoff said sales are growing at the center’s anchor stores, and interest is strong from potential new retailers.

“It seems like national retailers are looking at expanding,” Lenhoff said. “Recovery from the Great Recession has been a little slow, but it has been steady.”

Lenhoff said he has several letters of intent but no signed leases to announce. He called a restaurant tenant “not as likely” given the building’s location between two restaurants.

So-called power centers like Westwood Plaza have 8 percent vacancy in southwest Omaha, and just 4.3 percent vacancy citywide. Total retail vacancy in southwest Omaha was 6.1 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to commercial real estate research firm Xceligent.

The McDonald’s, which Lenhoff said was one of Omaha’s first, was razed. Seldin bought the property from McDonald’s Corp. in 2009 for $635,000.

Westwood Plaza is anchored by a recently remodeled Baker’s supermarket, which added a gas station this summer, along with Austad’s Golf, T.J. Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, Office Depot and Dollar Tree. Other recent improvements include the expansion of Half Price Books and the remodeling of a former Hooters restaurant into McAlister’s.

Tenant Mary Jane Huber, who owns Time Center retail and repair shop with her husband, said the location and traffic counts have contributed to her shop’s success in its 31 years there. She’s stayed despite offers from other shopping centers to relocate, even as what used to be far west Omaha is now considered more central.

She hopes any new businesses will boost traffic throughout the center.

“It would be nice to have a specialty shop that was one of a kind,” Huber said, or a repair or service business. “Anybody who can go in there that’s selling a service is going to be successful because of the location.”

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