Prairie Queen Multi-Family Development Provides Affordability, Recreation and Flexibility


In 2016, Urban Waters, a private developer in Omaha, owned 50 acres of land in the City of Papillion (population ~20,500) with a vision to create a multi-family development that would meet the needs of multiple generations. Specifically, Urban Waters sought to recreate the neighborhood feel of a classic community (e.g., no big buildings or vast parking lots) while also helping solve the mismatch between the available U.S. housing market and shifting demographics – including growing demand for walkability, safety, greenspace, independence/privacy and other similar qualities of life.

Neighboring Prairie Queen Lake, which is part of the Prairie Queen Recreation Area, the site also featured significant opportunity to create recreational opportunities. In addition to boating and fishing, the area boasts 4 miles of paved trails for hiking, biking and picnicking that encircle the lake.

Urban Waters recognized SEH’s ability to help bring its vision to life, experience in master engineering, site design and land development, as well as how the team could uncover cost and operational efficiencies. The developer partnered with SEH to lead several roles, with two other consultants joining the team.


The Prairie Queen Missing Middle Housing Neighborhood Development features about 500 units – including small and large duplexes, three-plexes, four-plexes, five-plexes, six-plexes, apartments, townhomes, retail spaces and live-work studios, along with other recreational features and connections.

As civil designer and civil engineer for the project, SEH provided due diligence, platting, permitting and site design. Opticos Design served as the master planner and design architect for the building types and architecture. Studio 951 served as the architect of record.

As a result of the SEH team’s site planning expertise and master engineering – that is, involving engineers early in master planning efforts to integrate infrastructure, stormwater and grading scenarios – Urban Waters was able to begin construction on this complex $100 million development in 2018.

In fact, the SEH team’s master engineering efforts enabled the developer to achieve several efficiencies in site utilities and grading – including storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water main. The SEH team developed site layouts and grading exhibits to communicate cost implications during every step of design development in order to create a plan that met the expectations of the planners and developer. Without this detailed attention on every building throughout the master plan, the site would have required costly and time-consuming grade and utility adjustments.

The SEH team’s experience designing this development and seeing construction unfold empowered a deep understanding of how to best plan the required infrastructure. This type of development is challenging – with numerous, unique, house-scale buildings in close proximity – and required private mains and alleyways to accomplish the community feel. The team’s learned techniques have led to significant project efficiencies, which have been key to the project’s financial success.

As noted above, the Prairie Queen Missing Middle Housing Neighborhood Development neighbors and connects to the Prairie Queen Recreation Area. It sits adjacent to Prairie Queen Lake and several miles of bike lanes and trails – empowering the development amidst high demand for both recreation opportunities and a variety of housing types. The development also offers recreation outfitting, another amenity residents can use to take advantage of the site’s recreational features.

Related Content: The Rise of Missing Middle Housing and 3 Ways Developers Can Capitalize

Prairie Queen Missing Middle Housing Neighborhood Development

City of Papillion, Nebraska

Urban Waters


  • 500-unit neighborhood development across 50 acres
  • Duplexes, three-plexes, four-plexes, five-plexes and six-plexes
  • Apartments and townhomes
  • Live-work studios and retail spaces
  • Direct access to Prairie Queen Recreation Area
  • Recreation outfitting
  • Sidewalk network for walkers/bikers
  • Construction phasing allowed units to open, ROI


  • Master engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Civil design
  • Site design
  • Platting
  • Permitting
  • Site grading

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