December 22, 2017 by
Photography by Joshua Foo

AKSARBEN VILLAGE

When a building gets its own Twitter account, you know it’s big news. So it is with @newHDRhq—handle for the new global headquarters being built for HDR. The building was “topped out” in October with all its beams, then enclosed with 95,000 square feet of glass. Now work carries on inside—as it will do so throughout 2018—and on the parking garage. “Things are progressing well, and we’re on schedule to move in early 2019,” says HDR Chairman and CEO George A. Little. “We’re getting more excited every day about getting all of our staff into one building in such a great location.”
aksarbenvillage.com 

BENSON

Benson Lights Apartments didn’t just bring something new to Benson—it brought something old, too. Something that says “Benson”—only it’s spelled “L-O-U-I-S.” The iconic, red neon sign that once stood above Louis Market was refurbished and installed atop the apartment building in September. The sign is blocks from where it once served as a Benson landmark from 1957 until Louis was demolished in 2015. Like many other parts of Benson, though, the sign was resurrected with the summer opening of Benson Lights (lightsapartments.com) at 3030 N. 60th St. The 99-unit complex touts itself as Benson’s newest “handcrafted community” and features two-story lofts, a fitness center, community room with shuffleboard, and more. Not sure where it stands? Look for the big red sign.
facebook.com/BensonNebraska 

BLACKSTONE DISTRICT

Want it fine—but fast? Your food, that is. Good, because that’s what Blackstone denizens are enjoying now that Dante Pizzeria opened a second location, on the corner of 38th and Farnam streets. The restaurant—a West Omaha favorite in its original pad at the Shops of Legacy—has brought wood-fired pizzas, a static and “hyperseasonal” menu, sandwiches, and more to the BD with its “Fast-Fine” concept, an emerging trend in the food industry. Dante’s website describes it as a hybrid of the assembly-line fast-casual format and traditional fine dining. “Fine dining on your terms, without the fuss,” notes the restaurant.
blackstonedistrict.com 

CAPITOL

It’s not every day that the Mona Lisa and a T-Rex take spots in the same art exhibition. But when both are made from Lego bricks, exceptions are made. Through Feb. 19 the Capitol District hosts the Art of the Brick, a global touring exhibition rated by CNN as one of the world’s “Must See Exhibitions.” It features the mind-blowing work of award-winning artist Nathan Sawaya, who creates art solely from standard Lego pieces — including new works that debuted in Omaha. The show runs daily at 225 N. 12th St. For more information, and to purchase tickets, see artofthebrickomaha.com
capitoldistrictomaha.com 

DUNDEE

President Harry Truman famously said “The buck stops here.” Thanks to the Omaha City Council, the bucks are going to stop at Memorial Park, where time has taken a toll on the monuments that honor men and women of the armed forces killed or missing during service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Last fall, the council unanimously approved Councilman Pete Festersen’s amendment for the city to provide $100,000 to a $350,000 project to upgrade the park, dedicated by Truman in 1948. The other $250,000 would be privately raised with a goal to complete the project in 2018.
dundee-memorialpark.org 

MIDTOWN

Has this world started getting you down? Skate your way through it at The Rink on Farnam at Midtown Crossing, happening now through Feb. 28. Located at 3409 Farnam St., the 60-by-80-foot synthetic rink is fun for all ages. Admission includes skate rental and is a minimum of $5. All proceeds benefit presenting sponsor The Salvation Army. “This is our answer to the winter blahs,” says Molly Skold, Midtown Crossing’s vice president of marketing and communications. The rink is open Thursday through Sunday. For hours and more information, visit therinkonfarnam.com

midtowncrossing.com  

NODO

More than movies is coming to NoDo’s Film Streams beginning in January. There will be plenty of music, too. The theater begins seven presentations of The Met: Live in HD on Jan. 27 and 31 with a showing of Puccini’s Tosca. Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore gets screen time Feb. 10 and 14 while Puccini’s La Bohéme shows Feb. 24 and 28. The series, produced in partnership with Opera Omaha, continues through May.
filmstreams.org 

OLD MARKET

Compared to the phone calls Ann Mellen was taking at the start of 2016, the phone calls in October 2017 no doubt sounded heaven-sent. The calls nearly two years ago bore news of the horrific fire that destroyed the iconic Old Market eatery M’s Pub and the four-story building it called home at 11th and Howard streets. By late fall 2017, M’s began taking almost non-stop reservation calls for its much-anticipated Nov. 1 grand reopening. So much is new—plates, furniture, décor, uniforms, and more. There’s even more space (yes!). But Bobby Mekiney is back as executive chef, as are other familiar faces among the staff. And the food and service? Just as good as what made M’s Pub an Omaha favorite since 1972. Experience the new M’s by making your own reservation call — 402-342-2550.

Also happening downtown, you won’t want to miss out on experiencing the Encounter launch party going down at Brickway Brewery and Distillery Wednesday, Jan. 10. Check out page 45 for more info.

facebook.com/OmahaOldMarket 

24TH AND LAKE DISTRICT

The Union for Contemporary Art begins 2018 with a running start, offering visitors the Caroline Kent exhibition from Jan. 12 through Feb. 24. A practicing artist from the Twin Cities, Kent “believes in art as a platform to discuss and address issues within communities,” as noted on the website for Intermedia Arts, from whose Creative CityMaking program Kent graduated. Visit the Union at 2423 N. 24th St.

u-ca.org 

VINTON STREET

Let there be light? Yes, and a lot more in the Vinton Street Historic District, according to a report by KETV. Thanks to a combination of public and private dollars through the Sherwood Foundation, the city will install 60 new acorn lights along V-street. Money also is being made available for business facades—new windows and new paint—plus benches and bike racks. That—and those lights—ought to keep things shining brightly.

sherwoodfoundation.org

This article was originally printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Encounter.