The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Mixed-use development a growing trend

August 27, 2018 | Jason Kuiper | commercial and industrial, economic development
niche neighborhoods

Large, mixed-use developments are taking hold all around the Omaha metro area.

A look across the city and surrounding communities reveals the real estate trend’s is growing in OPPD’s service territory. Some examples:

  • Highlander – in north Omaha, along 30th Street, once home to the Pleasantview housing project – is supporting new growth.
  • Capitol District, once a forgotten area north of downtown, is now home to concerts, baseball and basketball games, and other entertainment co-existing with urban dwellings and businesses.
  • Midtown Crossing, Blackstone District and Aksarben Village give central Omaha abundant entertainment and housing options.
  • City Centre in La Vista is becoming an anchor for that community to create a destination spot.
  • C&I_Niche Neighborhoods_sign
    The West Farm development sits on land that just last year was covered with beans and corn.

    West Farm, near 144th Street and West Dodge Road. Grading, paving and utility work is happening on the large development that sits on parts of land formerly owned by Boys Town.

“The mixed-use developments with the all-inclusive feel was something Omaha was trying to adopt 15 years ago,” said Sharyl McGuire, manager of Distribution Engineering Systems Improvement at OPPD. “Denver has a lot of this. Really, you are seeing it throughout the country.”

In the La Vista project, as in other “niche neighborhoods”, OPPD has played a vital role.

HOTSPOT-MAP“The La Vista City Centre project represents the beginning of a new era for the 84th Street corridor in La Vista,” said La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig. “We are redeveloping a vital piece of our community. Together we have worked to relocate existing transmission lines so the development could move forward. Without a doubt, the Omaha Public Power District has been an important partner in these projects.”

C&I_Niche Neighborhood_MNHS Pacific
New roads are taking shape around 144th and Pacific streets in conjunction with the West Farm development.
Powerful partner

For OPPD, work for these projects touches multiple areas. From the initial planning and design to the account executives or the electrical service designers, who often act as liaisons between the client and the utility, work is spread across the utility. The type of development dictates when and how OPPD becomes involved.

West Farm, Highlander and La Vista are all new sites, whereas others, like Blackstone and Capitol District, include older buildings that need renovation and existing infrastructure that must be modified and updated.

OPPD officials said each development presents its own obstacles.

Locating transformer and metering equipment can be challenging in these niche neighborhoods, especially when electrical equipment competes for space earmarked for landscaping or building structures, according to Mark Pohl, supervisor of Land Management Siting & Records. A rule of thumb is the sooner the utility gets involved, the better.

“The developers and construction companies are looking for innovative solutions to accommodate their needs,” Pohl said.

These new developments must focus on future growth as they are built. OPPD will install extra conduits and make other considerations to allow for future expansion, Pohl said.

C&I_Niche Neighborhoods_Dodge & 150
Work around these projects can sometimes extend to areas that will feed the development with traffic. Here, an overpass at 150th Street and West Dodge Road.
The process

Steve Fanslau, director of Customer Service Governmental Infrastructure, described how and when OPPD gets involved:

It starts when builders, developers or governmental entities contact customer service about a new project. Customer service representatives attend concept and design meetings and bring back information to OPPD. The engineering team develops work order designs for OPPD’s backbone infrastructure.

The engineering department then works with scheduling to determine the necessary time frames for the work based off the designs. They also work with the supply chain management department to determine product needs.

Once the work is ready to begin, lead utility coordinators work as project managers and inspectors on the site and stay involved as the project progresses. This keeps OPPD’s interests in mind at all times and phases.

“There are a lot of moving parts and people involved with these large projects,” Pohl said. “Sometimes timing issues are involved and construction doesn’t always go in a nice, chronological order. But we work to find creative solutions to help facilitate the growth in these areas.”

C&I_Niche Neighborhoods_pipes
From pipes to cranes, work related to developments is complex and involves many partners.

For the communities, these developments mean more jobs, more diversions for fun and more living spaces. For OPPD, they bring new customers.

“We want our customers to be successful and have a positive experience with us so they can serve the needs of the greater community,” Pohl said.

And the next large-scale mixed-use development? Look no further than the very eastern edge of Omaha where there are plans to redevelop the ConAgra campus and surrounding areas.

This includes opening access to the Missouri River under the Back to the River movement, which is also progressing across the river in Council Bluffs. Plans call to unify and make the whole riverfront area an appealing destination to live, work and play.

Author Image

About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

View all posts by Jason Kuiper >

Leave a Comment


How Does That Work?


Leading the Way

Powerful Life


Working for You