Omaha developer plans 'geeky cool' place to live

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Posted: Monday, June 3, 2013 12:00 am

Demolition begins this month on a three-story, painted brick building at Park and Dewey Avenues in Omaha, making way for Spaces Apartments, a new $15 million complex that the developer says will include “geeky cool” amenities such as a bicycle workbench.

About $2 million of the Bluestone Development project will be funded by tax-increment financing, or the use of property taxes generated by the development for related public infrastructure.

The project will feature 154 apartments, traditional amenities such as a pool, a small basketball court, a gym and a lounge area as well as some less traditional ones: a game room featuring vintage arcade games, bicycle storage lockers on each floor and the communal workbench, a bocci ball court, an outdoor fire pit and a pet grooming room.

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The complex's target market is “anyone in Generation Y,” or today's young adults.

“They all love geeky cool,” said Christian Christensen of Bluestone Development.

The apartment managers also will host a program of events such as pool service, outdoor movie showings, an open bar in the lounge or street musicians playing in the lobby.

Christensen said this project would be “the prototype” for Bluestone's buildings going forward.

Some of Bluestone's other projects include Joslyn Lofts at 15th and Jones Streets, 9ines Loft Apartments at 13th and Cuming Streets, The Towns at Seventh and Pacific Streets and The Rows at SoMa at 12th and Leavenworth Streets.

The latest Bluestone project joins a slew of renovated apartment complexes popping up around midtown, including: The Junction by Arch Icon at 24th and Farnam Streets, The Highline by NuStyle Development at 24th and Dodge and several renovated projects by Urban Village Development between Park Avenue and South 42nd Street and Cuming and Pacific Streets.

Christensen said that in the past, the downtown market and the suburban market for housing were separated. Now, Midtown Crossing and Aksarben Village have shifted the downtown market west.

“Urban living has expanded,” Christensen said.

He said he decided to demolish the structure, a former hospital that was turned into a health club and eventually apartments, to maximize use of the site. The building has only 29 apartments.

Some people do prefer to be in a historic building, he said, but the deciding factor for many is an urban setting.

Christensen said Spaces could also spur other updates in the area. The site is the largest on the block, mostly surrounded by single-family homes and small apartment complexes.

“We notice when we go into projects of similar size, single-family homes start to get refurbished and improved,” he said.

The goal is for Spaces to open for renters by fall 2014.

Apartment rents will range from $800 per month for a studio or “convertible studio” — a studio with designated space for a bed — to $1,200 per month for a two-bedroom. The U-shaped building will include one floor of covered parking as well as surface parking and four floors of apartments, with a pool in the center courtyard. Studio 951 of Lincoln is the architect.

Christensen said the red brick corner of the project is modeled after the many smaller apartment buildings in the neighborhood, while the siding and tan brick on the building represent “the hybrid of the single-family homes (in the neighborhood) and how they relate to the apartments.”

“We think it's better to relate to the neighborhood, yet be cognizant that we're also moving forward,” Christensen said.

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