Crossroads Mall Renovation Almost Set For June

By: Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) - Come this summer people won't have to look at a nearly vacant mall near 72nd and Dodge. The Crossroad's Mall's $400 million renovation is set to be underway in June.

Developer Rod Yates with OTG Destination said he hopes to start the demolition process this June with a June 8, 2016 grand opening date.

Yates and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the development. Because OTB Destination will fund most of the project, the city said it would not increase property taxes.

Omaha City Council is going to consider putting a $50 million bond issue on the May ballot that will contribute to utilities, parking, sidewalks, streets and sewers.

As of now, Yates said the Target east of Crossroad's Mall is the only store that will not be demolished. The developer is negotiating with Barnes and Noble, as well as Sears on whether or not the stores will be included in the project.

For small business owners like Nikki Rodgers, the renovation was good news, but also slightly worrisome.

"I'm not sure if I'll be able to stay because of the increase in the rent," the owner of Sissy's Bags Boutique said. "I just make tutus and bows and I sell my purses. I don't know that I can--I would survive in that kind of mainstream environment."

Owner of Star Studio, Kelly Thomas opened up his photography studio last month. If he cannot stay in the mall, Thomas said he would simply relocate.

"When we came in we did know that they were thinking about tearing the mall down, but it's a pretty well known spot," Thomas continued. "This is one of the reasons why we chose the Crossroads because when I say we're shooting out at the Crossroads, everybody knows where to come to."

Yates said businesses do not have to leave if the owners do not want to.

"People who want to be here will be able to be here," Yates continued. "We'll make sure there's a home for them if they want to be apart of the new development.

But obviously to make it all work we have to tear everything down and rebuild it and people will have to be patient with us as we redevelop the asset."

When the project is complete Crossroad's Mall will be Crossroad Village. It will feature retailers, luxury loft residential units, office spaces, a hotel and possibly a library.

Additional funding may come from sales tax from products bought at Crossroads Village. It would be an additional 1.95% sales tax.