By next year, the former Smoke Pit BBQ building at 25th and Farnam Streets will house at least three new businesses and a new restaurant or brewery, if all goes according to plan.
The Smoke Pit closed last year after longtime owners Kim and Joe Dubinsky retired to Pennsylvania, where Joe is from.
Interior demolition work has begun at the 7,000-square-foot building. When finished, the newly named Farnam 25 will have 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot retail storefronts along Farnam Street, said Adam Watson, a partner in the project. The restaurant space will be about 3,700 square feet.
Other partners include Steve Elken and Michael Opatowski of Denver. Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture and Carlson Kennedy Construction are working on the project.
Watson said that with the new five-story Hotel Omaha rising to the east and the Highline Apartments expanding near 24th and Dodge Streets, the area is gaining momentum.
But the real draw was a building near the downtown area with off-street parking.
“That’s hard to find down there; hard to find for any retailer to go downtown and have a parking lot out in front of the space,” he said.
Watson expects investment in the project to reach more than $1 million, but didn’t have specific figures. Property records show the partners closed on the building in July for $475,000.
The developers are exploring the possibility of a rooftop deck on the building, which is home to a large billboard that referenced Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Kim Dubinsky erected the monument as an anniversary present to Joe.
The billboard may be saved. “We’d like to ask a local artist to provide some type of mural there, but we’re not sure yet,” Watson said.
Dubinsky said she’s happy the building will have a new purpose, but the change still stings.
“I was told that they already took down signs,” Dubinsky said. “I’m glad I’m not there watching it.”
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