Omaha Urban Infill Development Is Expected To Tighten | Nebraska

Since the baby boom after World War II, Omaha has defined its growth through physical expansion into the suburbs.

Billion. Northwest Omaha. Elkhorn.

But after decades of pattern movement, Omaha’s growth trends are taking a turn.

In the coming decades, the city faces a redefinition of what it means to grow.

In the foreseeable future, Omaha will run out of barren suburban land where new homes, businesses, and offices can be built. If the city were only built on the fringes, Douglas County could step in as early as 2046, according to a projection by the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency.

At the same time, Omahans are showing a growing interest in an urban lifestyle. In 2017, the city of Omaha received more residential building permits east of Interstate 680 than west, a year-long shift from the city’s longstanding suburban hustle and bustle.

As Omaha becomes less reliant on expanding city limits over time, that shift will have a significant impact on city finances, which have long been hit by a growing tax base. In Omaha’s future, urban development becomes increasingly important – not just a priority, but a necessity – as city boundaries fill Douglas County’s space.

“You have to think differently about the city and how can you be a healthy city in the future,” said Steve Jensen, former Omaha City Planning Director and current planning consultant.

Steve Jensen


With the trends beginning, Omaha has seen a tremendous surge in urban development with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Project NExT Center.

The $ 2.6 billion project would include a new academic medical center and federal civil protection capabilities.

The project is still in the planning phase. But it’s more than conceptual as the funding and federal legislation are behind the research and training complex.

Chancellor Jeffrey Gold said he was extremely optimistic that the project would take place.

Jeffrey P. Gold


“It’s a green light on every possible level,” he said.

Given the scale of the project, Gold said it will transform the UNMC campus, and likely even a large region of Omaha around it, with further economic development, related jobs, businesses, hotels and homes.

Omaha would have to deal with the roads and the wider transportation system surrounding the project.

The UNMC center is projected to create 8,700 permanent jobs both on campus and in related spin-off companies. If Omaha doesn’t want to clog the area with more than 8,000 additional commuter cars, more than just cars needs to be planned.

David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, said a project the size of UNMC would only be done once every few decades, and its effects would be felt for decades to come.

“It’s basically one of those things that will change this community for a long time,” Brown said.

However, Omaha’s capacity for urban regeneration extends well beyond the medical center.

The chamber has a working committee that deals with developments in the urban core of Omaha. According to Brown, an issue has resulted in 42% of the land between 10th Street and Saddle Creek Road, from Cuming Street to Leavenworth Street, is reserved for parking.

This is strong evidence that much of midtown and downtown is undergoing significant redevelopment.

North Omaha has seen $ 700 million in public and private investment over the past 10 years, said Willie Barney, president of the Empowerment Network.

Now Barney said he saw opportunities to strengthen the North 24th Street and 30th Street corridors.

Cydney Franklin is President and CEO of 75 North Redevelopment Initiative in North Omaha.

Cydney Franklin


The 75 North effort goes beyond redeveloping the Highlander neighborhood on North 30th Street. It combines mixed income housing, health, wellness and education and works directly with the Omaha Public Schools and Kennedy Elementary.

Franklin said she saw an opportunity to replicate this type of model in more parts of Omaha. She urged Omaha to prioritize the fair distribution of educational opportunities in the city.

Franklin said that if this is not a priority, “any physical changes and improvements in Omaha will not be as effective as they could or should be.”

Mike Riedmann, President Emeritus of NP Dodge Real Estate, expects Omaha urban infill development to pick up.

“We have seen a lot,” he said. “But there is much more to come.” Riedmann said the city will run out of space to expand into Douglas County, perhaps in the next few decades.

It has already basically filled in its growth in the south along the Douglas-Sarpy County line, he said. The Elkhorn area is also filling up.

Riedmann said the remaining direction of growth for Omaha is north, eventually to the Washington County line.

20191215_biz_blackstone_pic_cm003 (copy)


Where earlier suburban expansions were characterized by “mall by mall”, in the future Omaha can reinvest in the urban core and create places people love, said Jay Lund, principal for GreenSlate Development and driver of Omaha’s Blackstone revitalization.

Lund, who is also in the subway traffic seat, said places can be walkable, connected to the public transport system, and distinctive by saving old buildings and promoting local businesses. He said that’s what Omahans want – local, unique, and authentic.

“This is exciting and it can be anywhere in town,” he said.

Review of 10 important changes in OMAHA

032121-owh-new-alookback-ballpark (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-ballpark (web)

TD Ameritrade Park

Omaha broke the tradition of building the TD Ameritrade Park, which opened in 2011. By leaving the Rosenblatt Stadium, the city secured its characteristic College World Series in the long term. But the city also lost a popular landmark. Can Omaha find a way to embrace the old while it builds for the future?

032121-owh-new-alookback-riverfront (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-riverfront (web)

The Riverside

Omaha not only built the arena and convention center, but also recreated the entire river bank. Lewis and Clark Landing opened in 2003, and the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge followed in 2008. But the room was never fully powered. Now Omaha is taking another costly step with a $ 290 million revitalization of the river and downtown, largely privately funded by donors, and a privately funded riverside science museum for $ 101 million.

032121-owh-new-alookback-maha (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-maha (web)


Omaha’s native music festival, which started as the Maha Music Festival in 2009, has grown into a headline community event. Omaha is a city that is constantly trying to become more attractive. What else can we do to have more fun?

032121-owh-new-alookback-midtown (Web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-midtown (Web)

Midtown Crossing

The reciprocity of Omaha’s $ 365 million investment in downtown Midtown was a major bet on Omaha’s urban renewal. Midtown Crossing opened in 2010 and has fueled the city’s redevelopment trend. What’s next? Look down Farnam Street to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

032121-owh-new-alookback-skyline (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-skyline (web)

First national tower

First National Bank changed Omaha’s skyline 33 years after the Woodmen Tower opened. It is now 19 years since the First National Tower opened in 2002. When will another skyscraper change the skyline in downtown Omaha?

032121-owh-new-alookback-up (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-up (web)

Corporate development

Omaha saw a corporate success in 2016 when Conagra Foods relocated its headquarters to Chicago. Four years later, TD sold Ameritrade – with its new headquarters in Old Mill – to a rival. Union Pacific and Kiewit Corp. have set up a new corporate headquarters in Omaha. Can Omaha be resilient to future corporate reorganizations?

032121-owh-new-alookback-blackstone (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-blackstone (web)

Neighborhood resurgence

Benson and Blackstone became bustling business districts again, unlike the Midtown Crossing development. Which neighborhoods are ready to step back at the neighborhood level?

032121-owh-new-alookback-orbt (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-orbt (web)


The city’s new express bus route, launched in November 2020, symbolizes Omaha’s growing interest in improving local public transport. Omaha is increasingly turning to new modes of transport – whether in the future by bus, bicycle or maybe even tram.

032121-owh-new-alookback-chi (web)

032121-owh-new-alookback-chi (web)

CHI Health Center Omaha, originally known as Qwest Center Omaha.

The modern arena and convention center were approved by voters in 2000 and opened in 2003. They have improved Omaha’s game in the competition for concerts, major sporting events and conventions. However, this type of move comes at a hefty cost – $ 291 million from public sources and donors.

Elkhorn annexation

Elkhorn annexation

Elkhorn annexation

Big decisions about Omaha’s growth are sometimes made quickly when Omaha overtook Elkhorn in 2005 to annex the growing western suburb of Douglas County. Now the suburb of Bennington is outside the growing border of Omaha.

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