Downtown Master Plan Update

SB Friedman led a market analysis that informed a downtown master plan update for the City of Omaha. The motivation behind the plan was to continue the momentum that the City was experiencing and help Omaha thrive for the next 20 years.

The team of HDR, Inc. and SB Friedman prepared an update of the Downtown Master Plan for Omaha, Nebraska. The original master plan was prepared in 1973, and focused on maintaining the area’s viability in the face of disinvestment and changing economic conditions. Since then, the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods had experienced a substantial amount of new development and redevelopment, and the trends that were stimulating this activity were expected to continue. Therefore, the City of Omaha and other key stakeholder organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel/Motel Association and major downtown businesses, sought a long-term master plan to set a framework and guide development for the next 20 years.

The study area for the plan encompassed the traditional downtown area as well as the newly emerging North Downtown (NoDo) area that had become a center for urban residential, retail, hospitality and entertainment development, including a new urban ballpark. Notable assets in the area included the CenturyLink Center arena/convention center, newly constructed Missouri River pedestrian bridge, Creighton University campus, and Gallup University. Adjacent urban neighborhoods such as the Old Market area and NoDo brought a residential component to the downtown employment base.

SB Friedman provided development advisory services to the team based on our market analysis that identified opportunities for rental housing and numerous new office towers. We evaluated opportunity sites and potential development clusters, and estimated the scale, sequence and potential locations for various opportunities that emerged from the planning process. Our familiarity working with both the public and private sectors allowed us to function as a “proxy developer” when evaluating development opportunities.  These analyses formed a basis for the development program of the plan, which included major mixed-use redevelopment opportunities, revitalization of 16th Street, enhanced access to the riverfront, longer-term potential restructuring of the downtown office campus, and numerous other projects. The team participated in a week-long charrette to help develop these ideas and integrate them into the Downtown Omaha 2030 Master Plan.

Results: Construction is currently underway on a new $205MM Capitol District, including hotel, apartments, office, dining and entertainment venues, and parking. In addition, several existing office buildings in the area have been redeveloped for residential use, such as The Barker, The Bank and The Highline. Shamrock Development and NuStyle Development have been key players.