It was the Old Market specifically that sold Ros Mercio into moving to Omaha from Buffalo, N.Y. “It has a nice vibe and restaurants and art and culture,” she says. “It was just cool.”
Mercio settled into one of the 15 SoMa lofts at 11th and Leavenworth streets in December 2011, scaling down from a large house with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a den. “I’m an empty nester,” she explains, “and I didn’t want to take care of a house, and I knew I wanted to be downtown.”
Friends in Toronto had inspired her to try the condo lifestyle for herself. “I wanted to get away from managing a lawn,” she says, “and I don’t have to drive on the weekends. I can walk everywhere.” She has about a 20-minute drive to her job as director of sales at Journal Broadcast Group in West Omaha.
Her SoMa loft is nestled back in a quiet courtyard, past the community garden with its once-a-week wine tastings. The nearby railroad can cause some noise, but she’s used to it. She shares the 1,050-square-foot condo with Tessa, a tiny, gray-and-white rescue cat from Buffalo. They’ve been together for three years, and Mercio says she still couldn’t say exactly who rescued whom.
Something else that’s made several moves with Mercio is one particular framed photo of her family’s farm in Tuscany. She has uncles and cousins there whom she visits every year. “It’s my happy place,” she says, noting that her favorite times to go are in May or September.
Of course, the trips make it easy to supplement her contemporary Italian décor. Carnival masks from Venice decorate the entertainment center, the light fixture in the bathroom is Venetian glass, and the blue-glass plates on the dining table are also Italian. But don’t be fooled. Though the table has a contemporary Italian look, it’s actually from Nebraska Furniture Mart along with the rest of the condo’s furnishings.
Aside from new furniture, Mercio only made a couple changes to the loft when she moved in. Local designer CKF put granite and quartz countertops in the kitchen and marble in the bathroom, as well as a stainless-steel backsplash behind the kitchen sink. Mercio laughs and says the stainless steel shows water stains like mad. She says she knew it was impractical but couldn’t get it out of her head after she saw it in the showroom. “Every time I look at it, it makes me happy,” she confesses. “I don’t have any regrets.”
The kitchen includes an island with a stovetop and Jenn-Air range hood. Mercio says it’s just one more example of the extra thought the developers put into the SoMa Lofts. After having built three homes of her own, she says she knows what it looks like when someone’s cut corners. “It’s a solid feel,” she says. “You don’t hear people walking around. It doesn’t feel like an apartment.”
Though she does love to entertain, she admits she doesn’t use the kitchen to its fullest because “that’s the thing about living downtown…I find myself eating out more.” Mercio doesn’t particularly have a favorite, but she does like walking to J’s on Jackson by herself. “But they know me at Stokes; they know me at Ahmad’s.”
The floorplan of the condo is small but open. The high ceilings and lots of windows keep the overall feel airy, set off with muted blues and grays. Mercio compliments the developers with making great use of the space with clever cabinets everywhere. The only area that she’s contemplating renovating is an odd workspace nook in the condo’s entrance. It looks ready to house a 10-year-old desktop computer. “That was the only thing I think they missed on,” she muses. She plans to expand the empty, dimly lit square to add on to her pantry, which currently houses a modest collection of shoes instead of cereal boxes.
She does have an extra storage room down the hall, in addition to her double, heated garage. “You don’t realize how important it is until you have one,” she says with a laugh. “They did a lot of little extra things that maybe other builders wouldn’t have done.”
Every once in awhile, she’ll see a larger condo and wonder why she didn’t opt for more space, “but then I remember the whole point was to simplify my life.”