In Omaha, 46-Acre Class A Office Project Planned

If office buildings were pizzas, "Class A" office buildings would be the supremes -- with amenities like covered parking, marble lobbies and health clubs as the extra toppings.

These high-rent buildings often rise in their own business parks, surrounded by lush lawns and landscaping. Most in this area are in Omaha, especially in west Omaha, and few in Sarpy County.

But now Sarpy County is getting a new slice of supreme.

Developer Bill Torczon is building Peachtree Properties, a 46-acre commercial real estate development with 100,000 square feet of Class A, multitenant office space in Papillion.

The planned nine to 12 allbrick buildings will be on the west side of 72nd Street between Cornhusker Road and Nebraska Highway 370, or more precisely to the south of the Sarpy Community YMCA and to the north of the Villas at Creekside, a residential subdivision Torczon developed.

And just as the Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion brought Sarpy residents their first major open-air mall, Peachtree Properties marks a turning point for the southern suburbs' dentists, attorneys and insurance agents seeking office space.

James Maenner, vice president of CB Richard Ellis/Mega, said such developments in Sarpy County are rare.

Sarpy County certainly has had its fair share of office activity in the past several years, but most has been new, one-tenant commercial space, such as the PayPal and Securities America buildings, said Scott Heider, president of Grubb & Ellis/Pacific Realty.

The Twin Creek office buildings, developed by John Thompson at 36th Street and Highway 370, does provide high-quality office space, with plans for more.

But the vast majority of the 1.25 million square feet of new office space in west Omaha in the past five years has been multi-tenant, such as the offices north of Westroads Mall and at 168th Street and West Center Road, he said. Proportionately speaking, Sarpy historically hasn't been a contender in the multi-tenant office market.

"West Omaha is an office market with more than 8 million square feet of space in office buildings. There's just more velocity and activity there, as compared to Sarpy County," Heider said. "However, with the continued growth of Sarpy County . . . there certainly could be some areas of opportunities for smaller multi-tenant buildings."

Torczon, who hasn't undertaken a commercial development in three or four years, said the growth is why he is seizing the opportunity. But, he said, he is being cautious, building the project in phases spanning four to five years.

"There's a lot of new strip centers on every corner, but doctors, dentists, CPAs -- they don't want to be in a strip center next to a pizza outlet or a movie outlet," he said. "There should be a big demand over time for real nice office buildings."

The qualities that Torczon says define the development as Class A will be the all-brick exteriors with brick columns, landscaping and interiors that will be custom-finished with details, such as crown molding, to be determined by tenants.

Construction crews recently poured foundations and erected trusses for two of the planned nine to 12 buildings. Each of those two, which should be available by July 1, is about 7,200 square feet and can be split into four different offices or left as one.

Construction will start in 30 to 45 days, with leasing available in September.

After that, Torczon said, he will see how well the first buildings are leasing before determining when to start construction on the next phase. In the meantime, he is sending about 1,000 brochures to potential tenants -- a group that includes foot doctors, veterinarians, attorneys and insurance agents.

Those types of businesses follow residential and retail activity, and the Papillion area along 72nd Street is booming.

Peachtree Properties is between and just a short drive from two of the biggest retail developments. To the north, at 72nd Street and Giles Road, is Market Pointe shopping center, which is anchored by Super Wal-Mart and Kohl's. And to the south is the 880,000-square-foot Shadow Lake Towne Center at Nebraska Highway 370 and 72nd Street.

"Activity begets activity, so I think that's becoming a good stretch of roadway for Sarpy County," said Maenner of CB Richard Ellis/Mega, also mentioning road improvements there. "Historically, their retail strip was from Harrison to Cornhusker on 84th, and I think those dynamics have kind of shifted from Giles to 370."

Papillion Mayor James Blinn said companies have expressed interest in larger office space.

"I don't have any doubt that the need is going to exist in our area," Blinn said. "There's probably some need today, and the need is going to exponentially grow over time."

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