September 25, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The address is 201 F St.; but, like the hidden gem it is, one accesses it by driving down D (as in diamond) street. F St. itself is a dead end, a quiet, leafy spot full of little bungalows.

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The diamond is owned by Clint! (yes, legally, Clint!) Runge, founder of youth marketing agency Archrival. This square brick building, which Runge refers to as “The Loft,” started as a grocery store run by German-Russian immigrant H.J. Amen in a neighborhood once populated by a group of ethnic Germans who once lived in Russia.

Runge, who studied architecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, bought the building from former professor Carl Matthews. Runge has since used it as his ever-evolving playground.

“This place was raw,” Runge says of viewing the building for the first time. “A doorway was a hole. The basement was full of chains and hooks from its days as a butcher shop. For the last 10 years, I have been making it a place to live, one piece at a time.”

This included, as Runge says, “getting the creep out.” He cemented the basement and made it more desirable, even as a storage space. Runge kept true, however, to the building’s origin. A large bone saw sits in the basement, partially due to its heft. In the kitchen is a large cast-iron basin once used for boiling freshly killed chickens alongside the butcher block, now repurposed as a prep island. A smoking room off the kitchen retains its charred walls, and the smell of smoked meat permeates
the room.

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The space includes many nods to the graphic side of his business. A walled off area is implanted with Warhol-esque stacks of soap boxes and other consumer products. The double doors leading to the main living space display vintage cigarette advertising.

Another pop art feature is the wall of toilet paper behind the commode. The blue-tile bathroom also features a two-feet-deep tub and a nearly 24-inch-wide industrial-themed showerhead.

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It is a funky, fresh space, one to try out for a weekend. Runge himself has not lived there since 2013. He rents it to the curious via Airbnb.

“When I first walked in, my name was on a wall,” says Conjo Studios president Conrad Weaver of the vintage felt signboard Runge uses. “Having that welcome was really cool.”

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It is particularly busy during football season. “The first to rent it gets it,” Runge says. “Right after the Fourth of July people tend to start thinking about football, and I start getting calls. It is rented out every football game. This makes someone’s weekend. You can get to downtown without hitting a stoplight, or you can walk it in about 15 minutes.”

The space is so unique it was featured on the HGTV show You Live in What?

“One time I was on a plane, and the person next to me was watching the episode,” Runge says. “She turned to me and says ‘Is that you?’ ”

One thing that won’t happen when staying there—a boisterous, frat-style, all-night kegger. “I do not rent it for parties,” Runge says. “It is limited to four people.”

Each time someone stays there, however, it will look different.

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“The beauty of this space is I get to try things. Someone who was here a year and a half ago would see new tin ceilings and other things,” Runge says of the space that he is forever changing…one piece at a time.

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