Frank Krejci, Omaha real estate tycoon, dies at age 97
In his nearly 100 years made landscape-changing impressions on the Omaha metro area
OMAHA, Nebraska — In his nearly 100 years, Frank Krejci transformed the Omaha metropolitan area’s landscape, from the outlet stores in Gretna to the Crossroads and Oak View malls and beyond.
The native real estate developer was not only responsible for various high-profile retail enterprises, but also residential projects such as the West Shores lakefront complex in Waterloo. He promoted numerous industrial, commercial, and philanthropic real estate transactions.
He once won a $1.6 million offer on a 17-room mansion in Gretna, planned a family-themed RV park on 230 acres of land in Sarpy County, and acquired 31,000 acres of Wyoming ranchland for cattle, fishing, and hunting.
Brian Kuehl, an Omaha Investors Realty broker who advised Krejci on various projects, remarked, “The strange thing about Frank is that he did a lot of everything – he never let off the gas.”
accelerated the speed
Kuehl stated that until recently, Krejci sped up because “he had this overwhelming passion to accomplish what he set out to achieve, which was to make his imprint.”
A few weeks after his 97th birthday, Krejci died Monday at Methodist Hospital.
His relatives surrounded him. Jane, his wife of 47 years, and four children survive him.
A few years ago, Krejci of Century Development told a reporter that he had ambitions to accomplish before he retired or died, one of which was the renovation of the Crossroads shopping area at 72nd and Dodge Streets.
Chip James of Lockwood Development, Krejci’s project partner, stated on Tuesday that the renovation will continue as Krejci had desired.
James stated, “Frank stated from the outset of The Crossroads redevelopment that he intended to build a legacy project for Omaha, and we will continue to work to fulfill his vision.”
Tuesday, the president of Lockwood, James, provided little additional specifics regarding the mixed-use site scheduled to open in 2024. He described Krecji as a multifaceted business visionary whom he will miss.
James remarked that the Crossroads reconstruction exemplifies the man’s lifelong commitment to improve his town. “Frank had a profound impact on my life. He encouraged, instructed, and supported me. And I appreciate his participation.”
He cherished land, but he also cherished deteriorating objects that he could restore. — Trenton Magid, NP Dodge, NAI
Twelve years ago, Krejci purchased the crumbling Crossroads site, inspiring city citizens and leaders to dream that Omaha’s first mall west of 42nd Street would regain its former glory at what remains one of the region’s busiest junctions.
Before Krejci collaborated with Lockwood on a plan to develop the approximately 40 acres into a hub for entertainment, office, residential, and retail activities, other bids failed. Costs are anticipated to approach $600 million, with $80 million coming from public tax-increment finance.
Among Krejci’s other recent endeavors is the High Point, a multi-building business complex constructed by Century Development in the Elkhorn neighborhood around 204th Street and north of West Dodge Road.
Kuehl assisted Krejci in marketing this property and stated that his brokerage work with Krejci dates back to the Pacific Springs commercial project around 158th and Pacific Streets, almost fifteen years ago.
He stated, “I couldn’t even begin to list all of Frank’s undertakings in the Omaha region.”
Brazen, no filter, ‘golden touch’
According to those who worked with Krejci, he was as determined as he was candid, bold, and lacking a filter.
“He never held back,” Kuehl declared. Even if it was wrong, that was how he viewed it, and he offered no apologies.
Trenton Magid, of NAI NP Dodge and co-host of the radio show “Grow Omaha,” assisted Krejci with his 90th birthday celebration. Magid wrote a balloon-o-gram in which his acquaintance was described as “an equal opportunity offender of everyone.”
“For someone who had so much of it, he was not concerned with wealth,” Magid added. “Money was merely a method for keeping score. And he has a golden touch.”
Krejci, a soldier of World War II, was drafted immediately after graduating from Omaha Technical High School.
After returning from war, he purchased an auto body shop in Omaha, and three years later, in 1950, he utilized the proceeds to purchase his first piece of real estate.
Deals, plenty of them
Krejci’s ventures included Millard Business Park, Blackstone Centre, Nicholas Plaza, Centech Business Park, and buildings in the Old Mill and North Park office parks, according to a biography on a property listing.
The retail and residential developments included the Nebraska Crossing Outlet Mall, the Brentwood Square shopping complex, Elk Ranch and Indian Pointe Estates, Valley Shores, and projects in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, among others.
Magid remarked that Krejci has a keen eye for selecting the best properties and real estate developments.
He added, “He liked land, but he also loved anything that was run down and that he could improve.”
Upon learning of his friend’s departure, Magid sent a text message to his coworkers: “I’m sure he’s offending a great many people in line at the pearly gates. Tomorrow he will be constructing condominiums.”