New Condo Project Coming to Omaha

Jan. 15--It's Layne Yahnke's job to market Essex Corp.'s latest Omaha project, but it's one he can relate to personally.

With three of his four children grown and out of the house, he said he can see the appeal of Farnam Woods, a newly announced five-story building at 8123 Farnam Drive that will house 19 condominiums priced from $400,000 to more than $1 million.

The target market for the project, Yahnke said, primarily is people like himself: empty nesters or those who soon will be -- "anyone who wants to get out from under their house."

"We love our house, and there are a lot of great memories there," he said, but he also likes the idea of leaving behind the maintenance.

Yahnke, Essex's vice president for marketing, said he believes most of the buyers will come from within a three-mile radius of the project, which is planned for vacant land held by the company. To the west of the property is a retirement community and Methodist Hospital.

Single-family homes are to the south and, to the east, a medical complex. To the north is a commercial area.

Yahnke said the property offers the rare opportunity to live within walking distance of a whole array of neighborhood services, including a grocer.

The property is blocks from west Omaha's existing upscale condo towers -- Swanson Towers off 84th Street and Coronado Condominiums on North 93rd Street. Three other multi-story condo projects are planned farther west in the West Dodge Road corridor, but investors of at least one are waiting for the overall housing market to improve before beginning construction.

Yahnke said he and his partners aren't concerned about a housing slowdown.

"We think if you build a good quality product, people will find it," he said. "We've been in business for 30 years in all kinds of economic conditions."

Yahnke said the partners decided the time was right for the condo property because of the level of interest in condos in Omaha and the history of District 66 neighborhoods.

"We looked at people being willing to tear down $600,000 homes to build new and figured there probably was demand for new luxury condominiums."

The building's architecture will have Prairie- and Craftsman-style features, and it will be steel and concrete construction with a brick and stone exterior.

The condos will range in size from 1,235 square feet to more than 3,100 square feet. Because the project is new construction and hasn't begun, Yahnke said, the units are customizable. "If you can dream it, we can build it," he said.

Condo owners, he said, will have heated, first-floor parking, elevator service, a Hearthside club for entertaining, ceilings of up to 13 feet and expansive windows.

The project should break ground late next spring, Yahnke said. Construction is expected to take about a year to finish.

CBSHome Real Estate agents Cindy Cawley and Ken Coats are representing the project.

Essex is the developer of the Arboretum on Farnam Drive and the Bloomfield Forum in Omaha. The company has developed projects in 11 states, including more than 3,000 senior living residences, according to its Web site.

Copyright (c) 2007, Omaha World-Herald, Neb. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.