Google seeks to stretch farther in northwest Omaha

The tech titan’s developer now eyes total of nearly 460 acres for data center operation

By: - January 3, 2023 4:30 am

Google data center site under construction northwest of State Street and Blair High Road. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

OMAHA — Google wants to expand its Nebraska footprint with an additional 187 acres that abuts its roughly 270-acre data center site already under construction in northwest Omaha.

In all, the developer representing Google would control about 460 acres of once rolling agricultural hillside northwest of State Street and Blair High Road.

Google data center site under construction near State Street and Blair High Road. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

City documents show that Westwood Solutions LLC, representing the California-based global tech giant, has asked the city to rezone the additional land to allow for more light industrial use.

Around-the-clock activity

Operations are to be located within multiple buildings totaling more than 2.2 million gross square feet in floor area, with various equipment yards and parking areas throughout. A security entrance and Omaha Public Power District switchyard are to be on site.

The data center would operate around the clock. Though the plan submitted to the city says skilled, technical full-time jobs would be created, it does not detail how many.

A Google spokesman for the Omaha area was unavailable for comment.

Records outlining the growth plan also revealed that Google’s developer has agreed to donate $100,000 to make up for the destruction of a coveted virgin prairie plot from the development site.

Along State Street looking west, Google data center project (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

The Nebraska Examiner reported in September that a 5-acre, never-plowed prairie along State Street had been bulldozed away for the initial phase, despite City of Omaha guidelines to protect natural features.

Piece of natural history lost

City planners said the prairie ecosystem was not flagged prior to grading. The rezoning request to be presented to the Planning Board this week states that the developer agreed to mitigate the loss by the financial donation, which is to maintain 43 acres of reconstructed prairie at Glacier Creek Preserve north of 144th and State Streets.

Glenn Pollock, who for decades has managed area prairies, is still miffed about the loss of a piece of the area’s natural history and heritage. He said the city should have a better system of identifying such features and believes they could be preserved as assets on a real estate development site.

Data center site of Westwood Solutions LLC, for Google. (Courtesy of Omaha Planning Department)

Of the mitigation agreed upon by the city and Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, Pollock said: “It’s the best we can get.”

The latest Google growth would take the data center site northward up to Rainwood Road and westward to 120th Street, said Eric Englund, assistant city planning director.

City planners recommend the developer install sidewalks along all street frontages — along with a 10-foot-wide concrete trail on the west side of Thomas Creek, which runs north to south across the eastern part of the property, parallel to Blair High Road.

Construction underway

A visit to the project site this week shows construction in progress at the southeast portion of the broader nearly 460 acres.

Google has been rather quiet in the past about data center plans in Nebraska, but representatives offered some basic details about its growth trajectory last April during an event at its expanding Papillion campus.

Data center site looking west from Blair High Road. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

It was at that time that officials announced the new Google data center to be developed at State Street and Blair High Road (Nebraska Highway 133). Then, the project site was still the smaller, roughly 260 acres and was said to span 1.4 million gross square feet.

Google then also outlined expansion of its Papillion data center campus and said the company’s investment in Nebraska in 2022 was to reach $750 million.

When adding the Council Bluffs data center to the Papillion and northwest Omaha projects, the Google representatives said then that the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area would have the largest Google operational presence in the country.


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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.