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

August 22, 2022

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.