Work on Crossroads development is underway; project now likely to cost $600 million

It’s been more than a year and a half since demolition equipment tore into the former Sears Auto Center of Crossroads Mall to clear the way for long-awaited redevelopment.

Since then, a roughly 40-acre area of dirt has replaced the dying shopping center that for decades sat near the northwest corner of 72nd and Dodge Streets.

To passersby, those piles of dirt may not look like much, but project developers say work on “The Crossroads” venture is underway.

Architects, engineers and a team of builder partners have begun work on infrastructure that can’t be seen from street level, including work on sewers. Initial building construction will begin within the next year, said Chip James, president of Lockwood Development.

Originally expected to cost about $500 million, James said the project is trending closer to $600 million. The increase is due to “a variety of reasons,” he said.

The project team has seen a price escalation of 20% to 30% over the last year in some areas, and imports have generally slowed, which James said adds to the complexity of the project.

“Obviously, construction costs impact this, but also, based on the demand we’re seeing in the market, the project has grown in density,” James said.

Plans call for a mixed-use development consisting of both residential and commercial structures.

Lockwood co-owns Crossroads with Frank Krejci’s Century Development, which bought the struggling shopping center in 2010.

For years, Krejci, with a different partner who had taken the public-facing lead, had been working on various plans to redevelop and redefine the aging mall site. But multiple plans never got off the ground, with city officials rejecting financing requests from Krejci and his team.

It took until August 2020 for the city to commit a financial contribution to the project. Mayor Jean Stothert announced the city’s intent to join the venture with an anticipated contribution of $12.5 million in redevelopment bonds to help cover infrastructure costs.

Though the development team isn’t yet ready to announce tenants for the project, James said he and Krejci are “very pleased with the amount of interest” potential tenants have shown.

“Frank and I have always maintained that we want this project to be something special for the city of Omaha, and have been working diligently to find the best potential mix of tenants for the project,” James said.

Lockwood expects to make an announcement on a planned tenant in the coming weeks.

Another key piece still in the works is the project’s redevelopment agreement.

Although the Crossroads redevelopment plan won city approval last year, the project’s redevelopment agreement has yet to be completed.

A redevelopment agreement would finalize the project’s nearly $80 million tax-increment financing loan — making it the largest TIF approval ever granted by the City of Omaha.

When asked about the redevelopment agreement, James noted the complexity of the project.

“Projects of this scale in a suburban area can take years to complete,” James told The World-Herald. “Given the complexity of this project, Frank and I consider ourselves to be very lucky to have the support of the City of Omaha and Mayor Stothert.”

The development team and city officials have endorsed it as a project that could transform one of the city’s busiest intersections.

The Crossroads could reach 10 stories at its tallest point. The mixed-use development will likely include a series of structures containing offices; apartments; hotel rooms; retail stores; fitness, dining and entertainment venues; green spaces; and a pavilion.

The Target store and 2,200-space parking garage to the north will remain intact and be integrated into the new project bounded by 72nd, 75th, Dodge and Cass Streets.

The Lockwood-Century team expect to open The Crossroads in 2024.

Omaha City Council approves $80 million TIF request for redevelopment at Crossroads

Omaha, Neb. ( – New shops, offices, restaurants, apartments and entertainment venues could come to life at the former Crossroads Mall as early as late 2024.

The Omaha City Council on Tuesday voted 7-0 to approve an $80 million tax-increment financing request for the project, an award that should help developers deliver on a $553 million redevelopment vision at the site near 72nd and Dodge Streets.

KJ Crossroads Venture LLC, made up of Omaha-based Lockwood and Century development companies, also plans to include public plazas, artwork and about 4,000 parking spots.

“The Crossroads will become a commercial, residential, entertainment and leisure destination at the true crossroads of our city,” Mayor Jean Stothert said in remarks to the council.

The project’s $80 million TIF request had raised eyebrows among opponents, some of whom say the city has been too generous in granting the tax incentive that is meant to spur development in blighted areas.

Under TIF, the developer of a city-approved project takes out a private loan to help cover some expenses. The loan is paid back, generally over a 15-year period, by using the increased property taxes that are generated on the new development. During the TIF period, the property owner continues to pay a portion of property taxes to local governments based on the valuation that existed before any improvements.

After the TIF loan is repaid, property taxes collected on the higher-value, improved property then start flowing to those local governments.

In the case of the Crossroads, a projected total of $121 million in property taxes on the new development will have been diverted to pay principal and interest on the $79.4 million loan. But after the loan is paid, local government entities would stand to gain an estimated $9.5 million a year in property tax revenue.

City officials and proponents contend that the projects that receive TIF — and the extra tax revenue from them — wouldn’t have occurred at all without the incentive.

Councilwoman Aimee Melton noted that if a project falls through, the risk is on the developer to pay back the loan, not the city. Projects like the Crossroads, that expand the city’s tax base, are how the city can continue to grow and drive down property taxes, she said.

“This is also going to spur development all around this area,” Melton said.

Sarah Johnson, one of a couple opponents who spoke Tuesday, said she’d like to see the city award TIF to projects that produce a benefit sooner, such as low-income housing developments.

“The people that are going to be working at this development aren’t even going to be able to live in the apartments that are next door,” Johnson said. “That seems problematic.”

Sarah Johnson, one of a couple opponents who spoke Tuesday, said she’d like to see the city award TIF to projects that produce a benefit sooner, such as low-income housing developments.

“The people that are going to be working at this development aren’t even going to be able to live in the apartments that are next door,” Johnson said. “That seems problematic.”

Jude Beller, Lockwood’s senior vice president of development, told the council that the 40-acre campus will include about 2½ acres of public plaza space and more than 2 miles of sidewalks. The plan also reconfigures the street layout on the site to match Omaha’s grid system.

“Quite a bit of this square footage … will be dedicated for a public amenity, or public gathering space, or otherwise dedicated to the public,” Beller said.

Demolition of the mall, which began in December, is expected to be complete in May. Grading and infrastructure work will take about a year. The first businesses and tenants could be occupying buildings by late 2024 or early 2025, Beller said.

The redevelopment team, in conjunction with the city and transportation advocates, has kept different modes of transit in mind as they’ve designed the Crossroads overhaul. Most of the sidewalks on the property will be 10 feet wide, including the one that will run along Dodge. Councilman Pete Festersen noted that the distance is wider than many of the city’s trails.

The plans also call for various bicycle parking options as well as a Heartland BCycle dock expected to sit near an existing ORBT bus line station on the corner of 72nd and Dodge — allowing cyclists and bus riders easier access to the development. There’s also talk of the Keystone Trail one day connecting with the property.

Those options were good news to Cyndonna Tefft, a nearby small-business owner who is part of Mode Shift Omaha, a local transportation advocacy group that has discussed transit options with the developers.

“It’s exciting to see the connectivity this project will have,” Tefft told the council.

Diners, drinkers and overnight hotel guests at the Crossroads may end up paying a bit more on their bill. The developers anticipate applying for an Enhanced Employment Area occupation tax — similar to ones in the Blackstone and Capitol Districts — to recoup some of their project’s costs. The redevelopment is expected to create 3,200 full- and part-time jobs.

There are also ongoing discussions on whether the city may buy the 2,200-stall parking garage north of the Target store. Both the Target and the garage will remain as part of the redevelopment.

About one-third of the campus will contain retailers, restaurants, hotel space and entertainment and fitness options; another third will go toward office space; and the final third will be for multifamily and senior living.

“Pure work, play and living quarters, all in one site,” Beller said. “We’re proud of that.”

Neighbors eager for Crossroads Mall Redevelopment

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Back in August, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced plans to redevelop the Crossroads Mall.

There have been many discussions about redeveloping the dying mall over the years, but some people who live in the area are excited because this time things actually seem to be happening.

The parking lot at Crossroads Mall is still in use. Drivers lining up in the old Sears auto service garage to get tested for coronavirus.

Many people who live close to the mall are looking forward to the changes that will be made here.

A $500 million project will take the place of the old Crossroads. The mixed-use project will include retail restaurants, apartments and office space.

Mitch and Carla Jevne have lived a short walk from the Crossroads for close to 20 years.

“The last ten years there hasn’t been much activity at the mall and we’ve heard a lot of reports about development and then there was no development and so we’ve been anticipating some movement over at the mall and hoping the developer will come along improve the property and it would enhance our neighborhood as well,” Mitch said.

Carla used to shop at the mall. Carla says she won’t miss what the Crossroads has turned into.

“It’s kind of an eyesore just sitting there with nothing in it. I’ve never been a big mall shopper but I used to shop at some of the stores over there. Dillard’s, that was one of my favorite places before it died,” Carla said.

Carla believes bringing the mall back to life could also add a little more life to their neighborhood.

During the construction, once they really get into it I anticipate it will affect us in the neighborhood traffic-wise,” she said.

Mitch and Carla were busy with a yard sale Friday. They have also been busy keeping track of what’s going on at the old mall.

“Actually following it on a daily basis. I’ve taken pictures of the fencing and sent it to friends and family and said its actually happening. Our kids all responded with all those gifts with demolition blowing things up saying dad needs to wear his demo day shirt.”

Mitch and Carla are more than ready for the old mall to look like the new $500 million development.

Developers plan to get things started this fall, if everything goes as planned the project should be complete in 2024.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.

Lockwood Development Partners With Century Development and the City of Omaha To Redevelop The Crossroads

Lockwood Development, Century Development and the City of Omaha today announced a joint venture to redevelop the property currently known as Crossroads Mall at 72nd and Dodge Streets.

At a joint news conference Mayor Jean Stothert announced that a memorandum of understanding has been signed by the city and Frank Krejci, president of Century Development and “Chip” James, president of Lockwood Development to build a mixed use development on the 40 acres of property with retail and restaurants, a hotel and apartments and office space.