UNMC selects developer for Saddle Creek renovation, development

by John Keenan
May 18, 2021

Image with file name: Saddlecreek051821.jpg

Following a competitive bidding process, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has selected the development team of Koelbel and Company and GreenSlate Development to lead the renovation and redevelopment of the former Omaha Steel Works property. The Lund Company will lead all property management efforts.
UNMC is excited to see work begin on the site, said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD.
"As UNMC moves forward and continues to grow in its national and international role as a health care leader, this development will play an important role," Dr. Gold said. "We will create a space that both advances UNMC’s mission and revitalizes an area in a way that will benefit our neighbors and the City of Omaha." 
Redevelopment of two existing structures, on the west side of Saddle Creek Road near Farnam St., into a mixed-used innovation technology campus is the first part of UNMC’s plan to renovate the historic industrial property, turning it into an "innovation hub" where researchers can build companies to turn ideas into products that help improve health and health care.
The $45 million, 140,000-square-foot multiuse project, just one part of the innovation hub concept, will include a food hall and market, event center and collaborative office space that draws on Denver-developer Koelbel and Company’s experience in designing health care spaces, while GreenSlate Development and The Lund Company offer experience in the Omaha market.
"Redevelopment of this these structures and the Saddle Creek site will be one of the most unique and significant infill projects in the history of Omaha," said Jay Lund of GreenSlate Development. "This is a natural continuation of the campus and UNMC’s continued reinvestment in midtown Omaha."
Design work will begin immediately, with the goal of breaking ground by end of 2021.
"As the first project in the new innovation hub, the multiuse building is a fine example of our vision for the site," said Michael Dixon, PhD, CEO of UNeMed, UNMC's tech transfer office. "The new, three-story structure will combine workplace flexibility with connectivity that will support collaboration, in an atmosphere that encourages collegiality, sustainability and wellness."
The two structures on the former Omaha Steel Works development site played historically significant roles in World War II, as well as in Omaha's industrial growth.
Historic preservation is a major priority as the project moves forward, said Doug Ewald, vice chancellor for business, finance and business development at UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
"At this site, where Omaha contributed so much to the war effort during World War II, we will strive to recognize the historical significance," Ewald said. "At the same time, this effort -- beginning with this current building project -- will not only provide future campus growth space, but will reinvigorate the area and spark future development."
UNMC’s Innovation Hub will house such entities as: UNeMed;
UNeTech, which coordinates business startups from UNMC and University of Nebraska at Omaha research; UNeHealth, UNMC's contracting and fiscal arm for industry-funded clinical trials; and The Nebraska Business Development Center.
Koelbel recently completed an innovative health care center in Denver, the Catalyst Healthcare Tech Innovation ("HTI") building, which showcased its ability to create what the developers call an "industry integrator," which brings together relevant stakeholders from across the health, wellness and health care industries to accelerate innovation.
"Koelbel is thrilled to bring its Catalyst concept to Omaha, which has proven to be tremendously successful in Denver, and honored to be doing so in partnership with GreenSlate, The Lund Company, and UNMC, " said Buz Koelbel, president of Koelbel and Company. "This is the first development outside of Colorado for Koelbel after nearly 70 years in business, and we believe Omaha is the ideal market for expansion of this concept and our development operations.
The developers will work with the Verdis Group to maximize the potential of the historic building to meet and exceed UNMC’s ambitious sustainability goals. In addition, a pedestrian connection across Saddle Creek Road is planned to move pedestrians safely across the high-trafficked area and onto the med center campus.
The City of Omaha has agreed to develop roads and utility infrastructure, as well as build a parking garage to support activities in the area.
We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care.
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