September 9, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Upon entering the spacious penthouse apartment of the C02 building, one is greeted by a ginormous yet unassuming bowl of Skittles. Besides getting to “taste the rainbow,” visitors also get an up-close view of any rainbows that should happen to be hanging out in the Omaha skyline, thanks to the many windows and seemingly endless expanses of outdoor living spaces. 

The story behind the welcoming candy dish? “I got it for one holiday and everybody just loved it so much that now when people come over that’s the first thing they go to,” says Christine Mackiewicz, manager of a trucking company and one half of the environmentally-conscious duo that resides in these LEED-certified digs.

She has been happily unmarried to Scott Kroeker, director of International Sales at the Lindsay Corporation, for 13 years. The couple takes delight in sharing their 3,500 square-foot space with their creatively like-minded group of design-savvy friends, many of whom happen to be redesigning their own homes. “We exchange parties,” Mackiewicz says. “We go from house to house.”

The CO2 building, completed in 2013 and designed by RDG Planning, is a new anchor of the historic 10th Street corridor south of the Old Market.

LEED Certification stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. The standard is recognized globally as the premier mark of achievement in green building.

Kroeker says that it takes considerable effort to build something that meets LEED certifications. “That’s something that I’m sure the builders will attest to. It’s an open design, modern, with lots of light.”

The couple admits the million-dollar view afforded by all of those windows can be rather distracting at times. “We try to watch television,” Mackiewicz says, “and I can’t tell you how many times we end up looking outside at something. You can’t help but be constantly distracted by what’s going on outside.”

The industrial-themed space has concrete flooring and features the wireless Hi-Fi sound system, SONOS. Mackiewicz says the tough part about having a big space is making it comfortable. “We always want someone to come in and be at home. You can sit anywhere you’d like. There’s nothing off-limits.”

The couple makes it comfortable with personal touches of artwork created by various family members, yet manages to keep it offbeat and interesting with a hint of the unexpected.

One wall houses nearly 50 of Mackiewicz’s pairs of sunglasses hung strategically on a metal frame. Besides provoking conversation, the eyewear also provides function by way of added protection after her LASIK surgery. Kroeker got the inspiration for the sunglass wall after watching CBS’s Elementary, a TV show based on Sherlock Holmes. “He had a wall of padlocks and he practices picking the padlocks,” Kroeker says.

The two bedrooms feature “freedomRail” closets that maximize space using essential design features that last. Luckily for Mackiewicz, the closets are perfect for housing her shoe collection—one that rivals that of Imelda Marcos.

She has a terrarium that has run amuk, thanks to the large amount of natural light streaming into the space.“When I was a little girl, my grandmother had one of these and she’d hide little gnomes inside,” she says. Just like her grandma, Mackiewicz’s terrarium also features a little friend—a paper snail from Mexico.

Their kitchen has an herb garden, six gas burners, and a massive pantry with an extra refrigerator to exclusively house their many wines. The room is grounded by a beautiful marble center island and includes an industrial dining table. A glass piece by Omaha mixed-media artist John Prouty (whose own home was featured in our Nov/Dec 2013 issue) hangs near the island next to a mini-collection of abstract paintings by Kroeker.

To many, the contemporary building is a welcome addition to Omaha’s Little Italy neighborhood and just one facet of a multitude of regrowth occurring in the areas surrounding 10th Street south of the Old Market.

“The neighborhood is really starting to change,” says Kroeker.

Construction is also underway at 10th and Pacific streets for the new Bluebarn Theatre. And KETV’s work on the majestic Burlington Station continues nearby.  “Right across from the Boxcar,” Mackiewicz adds, “they’re going to have that indoor farmer’s market. How exciting!”

The couple grows beets and brussel sprouts in the adjacent, professionally landscaped gardens. “They did a wonderful job,” Kroeker says. “Everything is supposed to be drought-resistant and low maintenance,” Mackiewicz adds.

Kroeker’s passions are simple—wine, cooking, art, and entertaining.

“That’s the nice part about having a space like this,” he says. “You can do all of that stuff here.”

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