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The Omaha World-Herald highlights the new development activity at Aksarben Village:

Gimme some skin.


Even more projects popping up at Aksarben Village

By Erin Golden

The empty lots between the shops and apartments and restaurants at Aksarben Village will soon be a thing of the past.

With a series of just-announced plans — including a new hotel, corporate headquarters and hundreds of new residential units — land in the development is all but accounted for. Within the next three years, developers said Tuesday, the area around South 67th Street, from roughly Pine Street to West Center Road, will see another $100 million in projects and become a hub for hundreds of additional residents, workers, shoppers and diners.

“As exciting as the village is right now, I think it’s going to double in size,” said Dana Bradford, CEO of Waitt Company, one of the developers of the project.

What’s coming soon:

» A 119-room Marriott Residence Inn, next door to the Marriott Courtyard already in the development.

» More than 230 new residential units, ranging from apartments to town houses to luxury condos.

» A 60,000-square-foot retail building that could hold about 10 shops and restaurants.

» A 150,000-square-foot office building, which will include 40,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level.

The new plans follow the weekend announcement of other projects in the works: a new location for sports bar DJ’s Dugout and the new corporate headquarters of retailer Gordmans, in a separate, new 105,000-square-foot building. Construction crews have already broken ground on several of the projects, and others should be under way by next year. Bradford said all of it should be wrapped up by 2015. Renderings for Aksarben’s new additions show the same modern design theme of the current buildings, which include a movie theater, shops, apartments and office space.

Bradford said that new, sharp design, coupled with the growing popularity of Aksarben Village as a destination for dining, concerts and other entertainment, is a big draw for residents — particularly with younger people. “One of the things we’re hearing is people want to have that urban environment, that energy, that density — but they don’t want to have a 100-year-old apartment,” he said. The new residential projects are being built by different developers. Alchemy Development, which built the Pinhook Flats apartments, is adding another 63 units. Broadmoor Development is adding 40 new units — one- and two-bedroom town houses with garages — this fall and will build another 108 apartments early next year. Noddle Cos. is building 21 luxury condominiums and town houses near 64th Avenue and Frances Street. Those homes were announced last weekend.

The Marriott Residence Inn, aimed at visitors in town for several days at a time, will build on the successful run of its sister hotel next door, said Tom Deutsch, senior vice president of the Overland Park, Kan.-based RHW Company. “There are a lot of businesses, corporations located in the immediate area that are not served by this type of product,” he said. Deutsch said that construction will begin late this year or early next year and that the hotel should be open by July 2014.

Developers aren’t saying yet who they have lined up for the retail and office space, but there appears to be plenty of interest. John Hughes, president of Magnum Development Corp., said he’s been fielding more serious requests from businesses — primarily restaurants and clothing boutiques — than he can accommodate in the 60,000-square-foot facility his company is building near Aksarben Cinema. He said those businesses will be run by local, rather than national, companies. So, too, will a nearby 1,800-square-foot bar and “gathering place” Magnum is working on. “Everything in the village has a local feel,” he said. Some of the clothing boutiques looking at the building have other locations in the area. Hughes said he expects to work out deals with the tenants over the next several months.

Other new office and retail spaces don’t yet have tenants lined up, but Bradford expects that will happen quickly once the development gets moving. “We think we actually have to go forward and build the space,” he said. “Once they see how the environment is going to be from a retail perspective, then we feel we can start to attract retailers.” Bradford expects the influx of traffic from new residents, hotel guests and workers — some 500 to 600 employees could be in the office buildings — will be a draw for both shops and event organizers. “(Aksarben Village) is a great asset for Omaha,” Bradford said. “And it’s going to get even better.”