Mutual of Omaha’s proposed skyscraper carries $433 million price tag

Tower’s tax-increment financing request rises to 2nd highest in city history

By: - February 25, 2022 6:56 pm

The proposed Mutual of Omaha tower is on the left. (Courtesy of Lanoha Real Estate Co.)

OMAHA — The Mutual of Omaha skyscraper that’s proposed to start rising after the downtown library block is cleared now has a projected price tag: $433 million.

Also, according to newly available city documents, the Fortune 500 insurance company is seeking approval for about $62 million in tax-increment financing — marking the second highest TIF ask in the city’s history. The largest, $79.4 million, was approved for the Crossroads mall redo, which is currently underway.

Mutual’s construction project, in addition, is tied to the city’s proposed streetcar system in a way that calls for five extra years on a 15-year TIF term. That will produce an additional $25 million or so of property tax revenue to be dedicated to streetcar construction.

Such new details, including that the Mutual tower is to span 800,000 gross square feet, are to be presented next month to the Omaha City Planning Board. City Council approval is also needed.

Project Beacon

Project Beacon, as the Mutual tower is referred to, would include 2,200 parking stalls on its lower levels. That garage is to be owned and financed by the City of Omaha.

Still unclear is how high the Mutual tower will rise. Mutual officials said earlier the building could rival downtown’s tallest office building, the nearby 45-level First National Tower.

Mutual of Omaha proposes new glassy skyscraper that could at least rival the highest building in downtown Omaha. (Courtesy of Lanoha Real Estate Co.)

Mutual told the public basic details of its proposed new headquarters site a month ago, during the same press conference at which Mayor Jean Stothert announced the city’s plans to build a streetcar system from downtown to midtown.

The city said then that it plans to raise $306 million for the streetcar project. The streetcar is expected to cost about $225 million, and the remaining $81 million is necessary for a federally required contingency fund.

Mutual CEO James Blackledge said the 3-mile streetcar was key to the company’s decision to build its new home downtown. He said Stothert’s willingness to invest in the streetcar project drove the insurance company’s decision to leave for the downtown library site. Mutual has had its headquarters in midtown since 1939. 

2026 opening expected

Mutual has developed a $365 million Midtown Crossing residential and retail campus near its current headquarters at 33rd and Farnam Streets. It also has been acquiring more property to the east.

The new digs at the library site are expected to open in January 2026. The company and its 4,000 or so local employees are to be the sole occupants of the high-rise.

Construction is to start swiftly after demolition of the downtown W. Dale Clark Library, which is to fall before the year’s end.

The city plans to relocate the downtown library to 1401 Jones St., and an effort is underway to perhaps redevelop a site at 72nd and Dodge Streets into the new central library.

About 1,200 construction jobs are to be created during the Mutual tower construction. 

The TIF request for the Mutual project was submitted to the city by Lanoha Real Estate Co., the developer for the office tower.

Ruffled some

TIF is a redevelopment tool allowed under state statute to spur economic activity in areas deemed as blighted. It allows property tax revenue generated by the new development to be diverted to pay for eligible redevelopment expenses. Typically, property tax revenue goes to local government coffers. After the TIF loan is paid, either a 15- or 20-year period, the property tax revenue then starts flowing to the local governments.

The TIF use for Mutual and the streetcar has raised some eyebrows, including from a state senator who has asked the Legislature to re-examine  the “extremely blighted” definition, questioning whether the downtown area fits the definition that allows for an extended TIF term.

Mutual’s new headquarters plan calls for the city to trade the current downtown library site — bounded by Douglas, Farnam, 14th and 15th Streets — for a different block northwest of 14th and Dodge Streets, which is owned by Lanoha. 

City officials have not said what might be planned for the long-vacant 14th and Dodge Streets site, which has been empty since its former occupant, the Union Pacific Railroad headquarters, moved across the street to the south.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics. She has won awards from organizations including Great Plains Journalism, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and the Associated Press. Cindy has been recognized by various nonprofits for community contributions and diversity efforts. She chairs the board that oversees the local university’s student newspaper.

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