Trendy Blackstone District developer looks to build $22 million project in North Omaha

GreenSlate: Proposed warehouse near the airport would help fill demand in industrial market

By: - September 7, 2022 4:50 pm

GreenSlate Development owns and plans to build an industrial warehouse on 11 acres just south of the Lozier plant at 5902 N. Ninth St. in North Omaha. This is a view looking south of Lozier (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

OMAHA — A midtown real estate team best known for turning a forsaken urban corridor into the trendy Blackstone commercial district is venturing into different territory.

GreenSlate Development wants to build a sprawling warehouse in an industrial area of North Omaha.

The company has purchased 11 vacant acres north of the Storz Expressway along Ninth Street, near Eppley Airfield.

GreenSlate Development plans a warehouse for light industrial and storage use in North Omaha. View looks west from Ninth Street, just south of the Lozier facility at 5902 N. Ninth St. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

$near $22 million project

Carrying an overall price tag of nearly $22 million, the project calls for 160,000 square feet of building space, likely to be divided into four bays used for warehousing, distribution and storage. Tenants have yet to sign on.

GreenSlate is seeking City of Omaha approval for $3.2 million in tax increment financing, saying the one-story structure would not be feasible without the public subsidy created by Nebraska law to encourage economic development. 

The Omaha Planning Board Wednesday gave its green light to the TIF request that still must be approved by the City Council.

To be TIF eligible, a project must be in a blighted area. It works this way: Upon city approval, the owner takes out a loan to cover eligible expenses, including public improvements. The debt is paid by using increased property tax revenue generated on the new development during the loan period, in this case 20 years. 

Once the loan is paid, the tax revenue on what will have become a property of higher value is redirected to traditional government coffers such as public schools and city and county governments.

Diversity

GreenSlate principal Clay Vanderheiden said that while industrial-type digs may not be the firm’s typical wheelhouse investment, he views it as diversification.

“Developers are racing to build industrial properties.”

– Dennis Sciscoe, Cushman&Wakefield/Lund Co.

And at a time when restaurants have been closing and traditional office-goers have been working remotely, industrial and distribution space has stood out as one of the strongest growing real estate sectors.

Some say it’s “on the top of the heap,” said Vanderheiden.

“I’m kind of a believer in not putting all your eggs in one singular basket,” he added.

Site of proposed GreensSlate industrial building near Eppley Airfield. (Courtesy of Omaha Planning Department)

Greenslate’s TIF application refers to the thriving industrial market, as reported by Cushman & Wakefield/Lund Co. In the Omaha metro area at the start of the year, it said, about 5.3 million square feet of industrial space was in the construction pipeline, and most already was spoken for by owners or tenants.

“Developers are racing to build industrial properties,” said Dennis Sciscoe, Lund’s market expert. “Demand is so high that most of the new developments are being leased before construction is complete.”

He said much of the metro’s newer industrial space is in or around Sarpy County’s Highways 50 and 370 corridors, including Facebook, which completed about 2.6 million square feet of data center space this year.

GreenSlate officials note that its proposed North Omaha warehouse, being close to the airport and downtown Omaha, “is unique to the market and the additional square footage will be easily absorbed into the market.”

They said the project aligns with the city’s master plan goals for job promotion and development of an industrial park near the airport.

Airport area development

A few other notable industrial projects are in the works near the airport.

State Sens. Justin Wayne and Terrell McKinney of Omaha, for instance, are trying to assemble property for a community business and industrial park that would be funded with $60 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds earmarked by the Legislature this last session.

The City of Omaha has approved $1.2 million in TIF for a 66,000-square-foot industrial building on four vacant acres near 13th and Fort Streets. A-United is expected to move into the property, which is expected to be ready next summer.

Under construction on 13 acres at 5906 Abbott Drive is a 150,000-square-foot warehousing and distribution building by developer F&J Enterprises. That project was approved for nearly $3.9 million in TIF.

The GreenSlate project site is just south of an existing and active Lozier warehouse operation.

Vanderheiden said the land deal was presented to GreenSlate, which is working with broker Sciscoe. According to the TIF report, land acquisition cost $2.8 million.

GreenSlate anticipates creation of 107 new permanent jobs, not counting the 50 construction-related jobs during the building phase.

About 161 outdoor parking stalls would be on the site, as well as 13 stalls for semitruck parking.

Blackstone revival

Over the past decade, GreenSlate — including principals Jay Lund and Matt Dwyer — said it has shepherded the flow of roughly $250 million (invested by GreenSlate and others), resulting in more than 30 new businesses in the Blackstone commercial district.

Most buildings on the district’s main Farnam Street segment, east of the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus around 40th Street, have been redeveloped or slated for redevelopment. GreenSlate also is headquartered on the strip.

The city has fostered the revival by reconfiguring Farnam Street from one-way to two-way traffic flow and adding new lighting and landscaping to create a more walkable district.

Vanderheiden said Greenslate continues to do heavy lifting in the apartment and retail sectors, including a nine-story building that is to bring more housing, stores and parking garage space to Blackstone. That nearly $44 million project was approved for $6.2 million in TIF.

Greenslate also is a leader in the planned midtown Saddle Creek redevelopment site that will extend the UNMC campus with about 25 acres of housing, retailers and pieces related to the medical industry.

“I like to say we’re in the business of doing good projects for Omaha,” Vanderheiden said.

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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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