City leaders and Mutual of Omaha officially broke ground on the company's new 44-story downtown headquarters on Wednesday. The building, named "Project Beacon", will have 800,000 square feet of office space and will house thousands of employees right in front of the renovated Gene Leahy Mall.

This marks one year since Mayor Jean Stothert and Mutual of Omaha made the announcement for the new headquarters. The new building will be the tallest in Omaha, measuring 677 feet.

The new headquarters aims to symbolize the Fortune 300 company's embrace of flexible work models after the pandemic. "The pandemic has changed the nature of work, but our headquarters have been designed and built with that in mind," said CEO James Blackledge. Inside, the building will have offices and amenities, like the sky lobby, welcoming associates from a parking facility. The building also includes parking for 2,200 cars and will be available to everyone in Omaha during the evenings and weekends.

But the city hopes fewer people will be driving. "The streetcar doesn't stop. The streetcar is out of the gates," said Omaha Streetcar Authority's Jay Noddle. He adds that the ceremony adds fuel to the streetcar project. From the start of the project, the Mayor has said the Mutual of Omaha skyscraper can't happen without a streetcar. The streetcar project aims for a 2026 completion in tandem with the tower.

As skyscraper construction starts, leaders hope the tower rebuilds downtown, attracting innovative workers and spurring more development. Mayor Stothert spoke about the city moving out west toward the suburbs in the 1960s. She says it's time to rewrite history in favor of the urban core. "Our goals are the same, to rebuild and reactivate downtown through development," Stothert said. The Mayor said she's been waiting a long time for this day and the city's invested billions into the urban core to make Omaha the economic engine of the region.

Nebraska Realty, Nebraska's largest independent real estate brokerage is excited about the project. With two real estate offices in Omaha, Nebraska Realty understands the impact Project Beacon will make on our downtown corridor. "Having a vibrant downtown is crucial for any city's growth and success. We are thrilled to see Project Beacon coming to fruition and are excited for the impact it will have on the downtown area," said a representative from Nebraska Realty.

According to a recent study, cities with strong downtowns have a higher median income and lower poverty rates compared to those without a strong downtown. Project Beacon is expected to bring in more jobs and economic opportunities to the area, further boosting the city's economy.

In addition to the economic benefits, Project Beacon will also bring new amenities and attractions to the downtown area. The sky lobby and parking facility will be available to everyone in Omaha during the evenings and weekends, providing a new destination for locals and visitors alike. The building will also feature state-of-the-art technology and sustainable design, making it a symbol of innovation and progress for the city.

As construction begins, Omaha residents can expect to see the skyline change as the building takes shape. The project is expected to be completed in 2026, and it will be the new iconic landmark of downtown Omaha.