Even during the bitter cold, with a high temperature in the low teens on a good day, work continues on new projects around North Platte.
Crews are braving the weather, some working high in the air on new buildings along Halligan Drive, which is well on its way to becoming a bustling new commercial area.
Two hotels and a brewery are under construction.
Nearby, a sign is staked out on an empty lot, declaring the property is available for a restaurant.
The big hotels – a Comfort Inn and a Motel 6 — are entering the latter stages of construction. Before summer is over, they are expected to join the La Quinta Inn and the Tru by Hilton as overnight accommodations for travelers on I-80, readily accessible from either of North Platte’s I-80 exits.
The four hotels, each with 65-100 rooms or more, are next to the Iron Eagle golf course, which should bolster the number of people enjoying a round of golf this summer, too.
Motel developers are bullish on North Platte.
Near the main I-80 interchange, Exit 177, Tad Haneborg of the D&N Event Center is preparing for a new hotel there.
Haneborg did not reveal its exact name of the hotel, but said it will be a franchise related to Holiday Inn.
He is enthused by what he sees North Platte can become in the future.
“I think we are 10 years behind Kearney, but our economy is strong,” he said. “Exit 177 is the heartbeat of the town. It connects I-80 to U.S. 83 — and both of those roads are vital.”
All around North Platte, not just near I-80, notable business developments are underway, from the outskirts to the center, north to south and east to west.
Here is a rundown of some of the major developments:
The new brewery on Halligan Drive is called Sully’s and work is underway there too, despite the winter weather. The siding is now on the building. Steele’s construction is the primary contractor.
The $1.1 million project is for Dan Neff of North Platte, according to city records.
D&N Event Center / Hotel
Work is underway to expand a city street west of the D&N Event Center in preparation for a new hotel and retail area.
The street, named Sitting Bull Road, has been in city plans for several years to connect the four-block distance from Walker to Eugene.
Construction of the street is on pace to be finished by June. The sanitary sewer and water main are already in the ground. Installation of the storm sewer will wait for warmer weather.
The hotel will stand directly east of the Comfort Inn, overlooking Iron Horse Lake. Even before the street is paved, construction will begin on the hotel, property owner Tad Haneborg said. With luck, the hotel could open before winter comes again, he said.
Haneborg has an ambitious concept for the area. He envisions overnight rooms, retail shopping and a restaurant or two. He also wants to expand the D&N Event Center building.
“The event center is full the year around,” he said. “We remodeled 18 months ago and we are booked on weekends and during the week. We want to be able to host every event that is possible for us to host.”
Great Plains Health
A new entrance is built for the expanding emergency room at Great Plains Health, and interior work is in the final stages on rooms on the west side of the ER.
Likewise, on the other side of the ER building, the east, the expansion is in the final stages.
When those two areas are finished, some of the existing entrance, treatment and testing can move into the new areas, so renovation can begin to what is now the heart of emergency care.
The $8.5 million expansion is a three-year project to increase the number of ER examination rooms from 12 to 29 and improve services.
A new $1 million eye surgeons building is in the interior phase of construction at Philip and Maple. Construction began last fall.
Work continues at Philip and Dixie on residential homes on an 8-acre tract.
The city council approved tax increment financing for the project in October and work began promptly.
It might take a few years to build all 37 homes that are slated for the tract, depending on demand, developers said.
Nevertheless, three houses are enclosed and in various stages of construction. A foundation is ready for a fourth home.
A new U-shaped street that loops through the development is graded and marked but far from paved. A significant amount of utility work remains to be done.
Also, independent construction companies owned by Daren Wilkinson and Keith Hendrickson are each building a handful of new homes.
A new $575,000 building is complete at 202 Rodeo Road for Ellett’s Automotive, an expanding long-time auto and pickup repair shop. The 10,800 square-foot building will provide a larger more modern work space for mechanics.
The Berean Church at 202 West Eighth is getting a new fellowship hall with classrooms and kitchen, an 11,000 square feet building. The construction cost is $1.6 million.
The Kwik Stop at Fourth and Poplar has been completely remodeled inside and out, making one of North Platte’s favorite convenience stores look like new.
The location features Kwik Stop’s new look, owner Dan O’Neill said. All Kwik Stops will have that style going forward.
Two other Kwik Stops in North Platte have also been upgraded — Leota and Dewey, and the Oasis Travel Center near the I-80 interchange, along with one in Gibbon and one in Benkelman, O’Neill said.
The store at Fourth and Poplar has a new restroom and better office space for the manager. New flooring was installed, and the counter had been reconfigured for new products and ease of operation.
Hall’s Electric recently purchased the former Sculley’s Shooters night club on East Fourth and has converted it into business offices and a shop.
Shooters was for sale for more than year before Hall’s bought the building.
Hall’s moved in January and revamped the building to serve them well.
The former bar and dance area was converted to inside storage and overnight parking for construction equipment.
There are three offices and a break room near the front entrance.
Kylee Hall, 37, started the business in 2012. He operated from his home for awhile, and then moved to a business building at Front St. and Miles for five years, office manager Cassie Zurn said.
Hall’s does commercial and residential electrical installations, as well as repair work, Zurn said. The company is currently working on the Comfort Inn.
Not far up Fourth St., the former Gas Stop Tidal building has been boarded up and painted in bight colors. The place is now a completely self-serve, automated gas station company owned by a company called Pronto.
A spokesman for Pronto said they are a small company headquartered in a small town in Arizona.
The company strives to keep a low profile and relies on word of mouth, a spokesman told the Bulletin.
Old Taco Bell
The old Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s building is back on a foundation, awaiting a tenant. The pair of fast food stores used to be at Dewey and Francis, but were removed in 2017 to make way for a new McDonald’s.
The building was moved to a vacant lot for a year and now stands a little ways east on Francis St. from its former location.
South of that building, some foundation work has been done for a new commercial / retail building with enough room for four small businesses, city building inspector Dave Hahn said.
Wilkinson Development is in charge of the $525,000 project.
Great Plains Realty
Chris Frame and her son-in-law Tom Moore opened a new real estate company in January at 511 S. Dewey.
The two have operated as Team Frame and Moore within Gateway Realty for nearly four years. Chris Frame has been selling real estate for more than 25 years.
Now they are their own company – Great Plains Realty.
“We like the idea of being entrepreneurs and having more realty companies in town, Office manager Jennifer Moore said. “We’ve been really busy. We are well-acquainted with the area and the area is acquainted with us.”
Tom is active in several groups. He commands the Civil Air Patrol at Lee Bird Field, is president of the board of the North Platte Kids Academy, president on the Lincoln County Board of Realtors, and serves on the board of the 20th Century Veteran’s Memorial. He is also a member of Rotary and the Chamber.
Also downtown, Red Roof Antiques closed on Feb. 28. The building, just across the street from the historic Fox Theater, offered room for dozens of antique and collectible vendors to display their wares.
Several of the vendors are moving to a new place not far away called “Bushel and A Peck” near Sixth and Cottonwood.
Owner Vicki Langemeier and daughter Karsen Falcon operate the Bushel and Peck, with help from Vicki’s mother Cheryl Peck.
“My mother and aunt were always crafters,” Vicki said. “It seems like we’ve always talked about finding a way to have craft fair year-round.”
Several vendors already have goods at Langemeier’s store, and when everyone is moved in, there will be 18 vendors, plus a workshop area. There are collectibles, signs, wreaths, repurposed furniture and clothes – either new or vintage. They offer jeans from sizes 2 to 22.
“We have a huge variety of items,” Vicki said.
Downtown, Koby Rickertsen has expanded the ReMax Realty of Gothenburg and opened an office at Fifth and Dewey.
The company plans to hold a formal open house in April.
“North Platte is a great community,” Rickertsen said. “We think it is a good market to expand to. What’s going on with downtown renovation is spectacular.”
Dickey building: New owner
Also downtown, the Moore and Hawks accounting firm has moved into a building along Sixth St.
The building was formerly the home of Nebraska Job Services.
Moore and Hawks reportedly bought all the buildings that face Sixth St. from Bailey to Chestnut. That includes the west end of the building, where the taxi service and the Hub insurance company are located.
Moore and Hawks also bought the Dickey Building at the corner of Sixth and Dewey. It is one of the oldest buildings in North Platte, recognizable by its two copper topped spires.
On the west side of town along Front Street, the old barn convenience store has been renovated and reopened as Big Red Liquor at the Barn.
Owners Mike and Teri Schroer completely remodeled the interior of the store.
Its location makes it a traditional stop for railroad employees.
The store continues to offer snacks, quick meals, candy, sundries and refreshments, as well as alcohol.
The store opened Feb. 8. It is licensed to host special alcohol tastings and samplings. Store hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., seven days a week.
Log Cabin: Converted
Out on Rodeo Road, the former Log Cabin restaurant and adjoining property is being converted into an RV campground, community center, shop and sawmill area.
Gordon and Susan Crewdson bought the property.
The sawmill will be used to make wood for accents, such as mantles and table tops, Gordon Crewdson recently told the city planning commission.
The business will have a place for eight or so RVs to park overnight — spaces that will come in handy during Nebraskaland Days and the Lincoln County Fair.
Crewdson said an old back road to Bailey Yard through the property has been closed, and he has hauled 22 loads of trash off his property and brought in 12 loads of gravel.
“I’ve got the property pretty well flattened and cleaned up,” he said.
(This report was published first in the Bulletin’s Feb. 28 print edition.)