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REAL ESTATE COLUMN
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REAL ESTATE COLUMN

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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.

Planning Board

OKs building at Dodge and 38thA proposed 131-unit apartment project in midtown’s Gold Coast historic district got a green light from the Omaha Planning Board, despite numerous objections from people who testified or wrote letters.

Complaints centered on the planned demolition of three vintage residential structures southeast of 38th Avenue and Dodge Street to make way for what opponents described as a high-rent and nondescript building.

Opponents took issue with razing what they said were 21 existing affordable rental units within those structures. They also objected to the developer’s request for $3.8 million in tax-increment financing.

“Use it (TIF) in areas that are actually blighted,” Kristen DuPree told the board. A dozen people testified last week against the project; more submitted letters of opposition.

Planning Board member Michael Pate said he was conflicted over the loss of affordable rental buildings that also have architectural character. But after a lengthy hearing, he joined a 6-0 vote favoring the TIF request for the project, whose overall cost is now estimated at $28 million.

The City Council has yet to vote.

Developer Skylark LLC plans a seven-level building with two floors of parking, a workout facility, office space and a public coffee shop.

Apartments would range in size from studio to two-bedroom units and in rent from about $825 to $1,700. About 10 of the units would be offered at an “affordable” rate yet to be determined, said Skylark’s Stephen Sykes.

TIF is designed to spur economic activity in areas designated as blighted. Under the program, a developer obtains a loan to help cover eligible costs approved by the city. The loan is paid back, generally over 15 years, with the increase in taxes generated from the new development. Normally, property tax payments go to support schools and other local tax-reliant governments.

Civic site proposal envisions townhouses in mixFor-sale housing appears headed into the mix that is planned for the old Civic Auditorium site in downtown Omaha.

Developer White Lotus Group is hoping to add 20 to 25 townhouses into the layout that previously included roughly 400 rental units (both market-rate and affordable), said Jay Kline, White Lotus’ vice president of business development.

Retail, office and potential commercial and civic uses also are envisioned on the nine-acre tract formerly home to the city-owned auditorium near 17th Street and Capitol Avenue.

Kline said the homeownership option emerged after conversations with various stakeholders about downtown housing needs.

The mix of uses was outlined in a new Civic Auditorium Site Redevelopment Plan approved last week by the Planning Board. The plan sets up the future sale of the tract to Civic Corner, the development team led by White Lotus, said Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Taylor.

An agreement announced earlier by Mayor Jean Stothert gave a June 30, 2023, deadline for Civic Corner to obtain building permits for at least 50% of the square footage of the proposed development, and to submit design plans for the site. If it fails to do so, the agreement says the city will recoup the land at the same price it sells for.

Empty corner could see residential activityVacant for 20 years, a southwest Omaha corner is set to be filled by a 176-unit apartment complex.

Called 148 Place, the project by applicant Ted Grace of Altech Construction Co. and Ted Grace Homes is proposed northwest of 148th and D Streets.

City planners have endorsed the multifamily residential project in the established Altech Business Park, which contains office and light industrial buildings.

Eric Englund of the Omaha Planning Department said that while limits were set some 25 years ago on the number of apartments at and around many Omaha intersections, those limits are being re-evaluated.

A memo from Planning Director Dave Fanslau to the Planning Board regarding the project said that a lot has changed in the housing sector over the last five to 10 years.

“The department recognizes that there is a limited amount of developable land in Douglas County and has used various zoning tools to increase infill housing in the city’s older neighborhoods, as well as undeveloped properties,” Fanslau said.

The City Council still must approve an amendment to the original Altech business park that would allow the project to proceed.

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