Ground by Gretna outlets mall to turn into sprawling industrial park

Developer anticipates investment eventually to hit nearly $200 million

By: - September 19, 2022 5:45 am

Gretna Logistics Park industrial building to be built on former farm ground in Gretna. (Courtesy of NewStreet Properties and Cushman & Wakefield/Lund Co.)

GRETNA, Nebraska — About 170 acres of former farmland near the Nebraska Crossing outlets is expected to turn into the Omaha metro area’s largest contiguous industrial park.

Developer NewStreet Properties believes that the project over time will lure investment of up to $190 million.

The Gretna Logistics Park, as the site is called, is to kick off with construction of a 400,000-square-foot warehouse. That structure will be a speculative build, meaning tenants have yet to be secured.

A new industrial business park planned in Gretna is a sign of that market expanding its Sarpy County reach, says expert. (Courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield/Lund Co. and NewStreet Properties)

Early plans also call for a second building that will stretch up to 300,000 square feet and employ up to 200 workers. That employer is known, but NewStreet declined to identify it yet, as the sale of 25 acres for the assembly and production plant is still being finalized.

In all, the broader development site could fit some 2 million square feet of industrial and warehouse building space for uses such as manufacturing and distribution, said Peter Frei, vice president of investments for NewStreet, which bought the Sarpy County ground last year south of Interstate 80 off the Nebraska Crossing exit between Omaha and Lincoln.

The Gretna project signals continued strong demand for industrial projects that Frei believes will pick up in the region during the next five to 10 years. He said NewStreet wants to be ready when potential tenants come calling, so as not to risk losing another business to a different city that has more move-in ready sites of that size.

“We think the tailwinds that the industrial market has been experiencing, and that have been exacerbated by COVID, will continue,” he said.

‘A lot of dirt’

Construction on the first speculative warehouse will begin soon and likely be done in late 2023. NewStreet is so confident one or more users will come forth that they’re starting construction without any secured lease. 

Frei said that there is a shortage of jumbo manufacturing and distribution spaces in the Omaha area and that suitable tracts of land on which to build them also are becoming scarcer.

Indeed, much of the new and larger industrial space has sprouted nearer Sarpy County’s Papillion, along or near Highways 50 and 370. But that growing area, Frei said, has become busier with traffic and area housing, which is partly why NewStreet started looking for a development site near a different Interstate interchange.

His team found and bought the 170 acres of hilly farm ground near the open-air Nebraska Crossing mall. Land preparation was extensive, he said, requiring about one million cubic yards of dirt to be moved around to flatten the area. 

“That’s a lot of dirt,” he said. 

All streets and utilities are to be installed by mid-2023. The developer created a sanitary improvement district to help fund public improvements.

The park is to be developed in two phases. The City of Gretna has approved necessary platting. The first building is to have a 36-foot height clearance and a cross docking feature that enhances speed, flow and efficiency when dealing with certain inventories. 

Boundaries are stretching

Dennis Sciscoe, an industrial broker with the Cushman & Wakefield/Lund Co., is the listing agent and said the 400,000-square-foot planned structure stands out as  the area’s largest industrial-use property to be built on a speculative basis. 

When all park phases are complete, Sciscoe said, the Gretna project would be the Omaha metro area’s largest contiguous industrial park. 

“The boundaries of industrial development are pushing outward, which is a good sign that our market is expanding,” he said.

Other industrial parks are under construction in the metro area as well. R&R Realty of West Des Moines, for example, has been building a huge development in Sarpy County near Highways 370 and 50 that rivals the overall size envisioned at Gretna, though the R&R property splits and is not contiguous.

Omaha developer White Lotus hopes to build about 1 million square feet of warehouse industrial space on 71 acres near Lincoln, and also is developing the 138-acre I-80 Logistics Hub in Sarpy County at 132nd Street and Cornhusker Road.

A sample of tenants occupying I-80 Logistics: Amazon, United Parcel Service, Home Depot, GXO Logistics, Scooters.

The Opus Group plans to develop about 550,000 square feet in Council Bluffs and, said Sciscoe, has leased a sizable chunk to Packaging Corp. of America.

The Omaha-Lincoln area offers attractive middle-America location and easy transportation access points, Frei said. But he said he has known potential users who have flirted locally then turned elsewhere because of the shortage of readily available large spaces, notably in the 300,000- to 700,000-square-foot range. Frei said the NewStreet project hopes to provide hefty industrial spaces for businesses seeking a relatively fast ramp-up for a project launch.

“There are users out there who need a home,” Frei said. “We’re positioning ourselves to grow along with these tailwinds.”

The Gretna Logistics Park is to span about 170 acres on the other side of I-80 from the Gretna outlet mall. (Courtesy of NewStreet Properties and Cushman &Wakefield/Lund Co.)

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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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