Tag Archives: B2B

Bringing Meaningful Design Conversations to Omaha

August 13, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Architecture as an intellectual endeavor extends far beyond brick-and-mortar structures. For designer Andrew Conzett, architecture is a form of problem-solving and way to rewrite immediate questions about the built environment through a culturally sensitive lens. Early in his career, he positioned his curiosity at one of Omaha’s most creatively focused firms, developed numerous discipline-blurring projects, and helped curate a robust series of lectures with the Omaha chapter of the American Institute of Architects. This fusion of localized projects and international discourse is one that not only pushes his own practice forward, but also challenges existing norms and perceptions of regional architecture.

Conzett grew up in Omaha. Since a young age, he was inspired by his father, a civil engineer at a large international firm, and his mother, who was consistently involved with social service and nonprofit organizations. As a soon-to-be licensed architect, Conzett is a cocktail of both. He has always been keenly interested in art and landscape, both of which were influential in his childhood years and helped to inform his atypical response to the “I-always-wanted-to-be-an-architect” story ubiquitous amongst peers (many say it was from building with LEGO bricks as a child). During high school, a design competition piqued his interest. This community-focused extracurricular project, which combined multi-disciplinary teamwork and a design-based approach, prompted him to apply to the College of Design at Iowa State University.

While at Iowa State, his intense studio assignments were mixed with conversations and projects with artists and creative thinkers. Working alongside a diversity of artistic studies pushed him to see the multiplicity of architecture. During his final year in the architecture program, one of Conzett’s classmates responded to his non-binary projects by asking, “Do you want to be an installation artist or architect?” Conzett did not know how to respond; however, this prompt of either/or has now become a defining feature of his practice.

While studying, Conzett diversified his architectural coursework with internships at the Omaha Public Library and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, where he interned with artist Sean Ward and curator Hesse McGraw. After graduating in 2010, he moved to Omaha and was soon commissioned to design an office pod installation at the headquarters of Bozell. The project resulted in a spatial intervention that was recognized by the AIA Central States Region’s Excellence in Design Awards for “Detail Honor and the Interior Design Best of Year Award for Budget Interiors.”

His interests in a diverse range of project types brought him to his current position at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture in 2011. At the collaborative open studio in north downtown where architects work alongside interior designers, graphic designers, artists, and engineers, Conzett is staying busy outside the office as well.

His CV for research-based and experimental projects is dense. Stepping one foot outside the firm, Conzett has worked collaboratively on award-winning projects with Emerging Terrain, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Council Bluffs Park System, including River’s Edge Park. Each project allows him to intensely research form, material, and site. They also provide an instant design-to-built-project process that allows ideas to come to fruition faster than with traditional design-bid-build projects, which often take years to complete. These research-based projects also speak to his interest in architecture as built form that has the ability to blur lines between disciplines and methodologies.

For Conzett, “contemporary architecture practice requires thinking about new methods and materials, and thus inspires me to seek out unique project types as a way to expand my knowledge of design and the built environment.”

His most recent endeavor, the AIA Omaha lecture series, conflates his efforts in community activities and intellectual pursuits. Organized in collaboration with Ross Miller and other AIA Omaha members, the 2017 lecture series is a thought-provoking forum for design thinking. Bringing in award-winning international and national architects, such as Mike Nesbit of Morphosis in Los Angeles and Kai-Uwe Bergmann of Bjarke Ingles Group in Copenhagen, the role of these lectures are two-fold. First, they are an opportunity for professional architects and the general public to participate in architectural discourse. Secondly, the lectures provide a voice for a range of architectural practices that are advancing disciplinary boundaries.

While the series may seem hyper-niche, the visiting lecturers produce a diverse range of project types. These architects discuss the scholarly and tactile impact of design beyond simply making buildings. As award-winning content creators, the lecturers stimulate the public and challenge architects to aim their work to an elevated level of design excellence.

“It is always good to hear professionals talk about their design process and work,” says Emily Andersen, owner of DeOld Andersen Architecture. “But it is even more important to have lecturers come to Omaha that are truly challenging assumptions. The lectures bring the potential of a meaningful conversation that allows us to see into the creative process of other design professionals. And so I really appreciate the work that AIA does, as well as Design Alliance Omaha to help bring that discourse here.”

In all of his work, Conzett is running against the boundaries of the discipline with a keen understanding that traditional definitions of architecture and the built environment deserve to be challenged and pushed forward. “Opportunities such as professional work with [Alley Poyner], design-build exhibition and installation commissions, and the AIA Omaha lecture series are all ways for me to continue to experiment with and better understand the practice of architecture,” he says.

Visit aiaomaha.org/lecture-series for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

DLR Group

August 10, 2017 by

This sponsored content appears in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0817_125/1?e=1413765/50121072

The most productive employees are those who are happy and who enjoy their work environment. As modern, open offices remain popular, an agile approach to workplace design provides flexibility for workers that contributes to productivity
and happiness.

DLR Group is an employee-owned, integrated design firm with 26 offices and more than 1,000 design professionals worldwide. The firm’s dedicated Workplace Studio researches, evaluates, and executes designs for the modern workplace— using the agile methodology regularly.

“Agile design is an effective tool for making workplaces functional for the generational demographics that make up our workforce,” says Melissa Spearman, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Associate and Workplace Leader at DLR Group’s Omaha office.

The once-largest generation in the workplace, baby boomers, are retiring or working primarily in management positions. Spearman says these workers are accustomed to structured environments and formally designed spaces.

“Meanwhile, millennials have claimed their stake as the largest group in today’s workforce,” Spearman says. “Millennials have ridden atop the wave of technological advancement and learned to adapt quickly as new systems emerge. They are already agile and expect the latest technologies to be available in their workplace.”

Sitting in-between are Gen X workers. These employees are excited about the flexibility new workplace methodologies can provide, as long as it contributes to a healthy work-life balance.

The eldest members of Gen Z are finishing college and entering the workforce now. Spearman says her team is still learning about the work style of Gen Z, but it is clear they are agile self-motivators. Personal development is a constant in their lives, and they need space for it in their
future workplaces.

The question Spearman’s team aims to solve for each workplace client is: How can one workplace support, encourage, grow and—most importantly–appeal to all of the generations in the current workforce? Spearman says an agile workplace design methodology encompasses six key principles:

1. Focus Zones—Heads down workspace where employees can focus without interruptions. 

2. Smart and Connected Spaces—Areas with integrated technology for teams and individuals to gather. Spaces can include a huddle room, nook, or any designated areas within the office that allow for use of digital tools and power.

3. Flexibility—Utilizing furniture from a kit of parts to create optimal flexibility and interchangeability.

4. Collaboration Spaces—Areas for employees to engage in quick chats and impromptu collaboration.

5. Teaming Areas—With today’s multifaceted workplace environment, these spaces allow employees to work in teams to solve problems and strategize.

6. Community Space—Expanding the breakroom into a multi-function space for many different uses allows it to be a gathering space for all-office meetings, a place to hold an afterhours event, or a gathering place for others in the
community to enjoy.

“To accommodate today’s varied workforce, DLR Group’s Workplace Studio focuses on designing spaces around motivated individuals,” Spearman says. “Providing an agile environment with a variety of workspace areas to support various generational needs helps employees get
their jobs done.”

DLR Group
6457 Frances Street, Suite 200
Omaha, NE 68106
402.393.4100
dlrgroup.com

 

Nathan Miller

August 6, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nate Miller is changing the world of architecture. It is hard to imagine, looking at the bald, bespectacled 30-something wearing clean, dark jeans and working quietly in a coffee shop.

“I think the business industry and the world of construction is ripe for disruption,” Miller says.

He is disrupting this industry through data mining. The building industry comprises several professions—architects, engineers, construction managers, and more. Creating buildings involves using software for computer-aided design, conceptual modeling, building information, and many other components. While software companies have complete packages for the building industry, the separate industries often prefer one software over another, so an architecture company that designs a building using Revit (Autodesk’s CAD program) may not be able to connect their information with an engineering company that uses Bentley’s Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability program. The result is a lot of time spent translating programs. The software companies aren’t interested in creating translation programs—that’s where Miller and his company, Proving Ground, comes in.

“[The building industry] is shifting into much more integrated practices. Nate’s role is in developing new techniques,” says Jeff Day, professor and director of the architecture program at UNL as well as principal at his own firm, Min | Day.

“A lot of softwares already have connection points built into them. Ways in which, at a programming level, you can begin to access a document, or part of a document, and extract data,” Miller says.

Proving Ground builds tools, often in the form of plug-ins, that tap into those connection points. They customize their products for individual architecture clients based on their needs, such as having a business client with a lean budget or needing access to daylight.

This ability to connect systems is helping to drive the world of design by data. “There are so many ways that one can, whether with data and tech, or fabrication concepts and prefabrication, use data,” Miller says.

Miller discovered this passion by learning. He graduated from UNL with a master’s in architecture in 2007 and began working for NBBJ Design in Los Angeles. As he built a design portfolio, he became interested in how to leverage data to help his own computations and design processes.

His ability to prove this came when he worked as the lead designer on the stadium at Hangzhou Sports Park in China. The shell was created in a series of aesthetically pleasing steel flower petals, which used less steel than a more traditional steel cover. The bowl was created from concrete. The company liked that this progressive design also reduced costs by using 2/3 less steel than a stadium of comparable size.

That progressive project proved to Miller that data-driven design worked well. He began thinking about implementing data-driven design on a wider range of products—just as CASE Inc. in New York, a building information and technology consultancy, called him with a job offer.

Miller wasn’t thinking about the Big Apple. He was thinking about the Big O. He wanted to come home. CASE agreed to let him work from Omaha, and Miller continued learning, and using, data-driven design as director of architecture and engineering solutions.

CASE’s clients at WeWork were also using data-driven research for a specific area of architecture and real estate. They focus on subscription-based co-work environments for startups.

WeWork learned their eight-person conference rooms were frequently booked for groups of four or five people. They researched why people were meeting in smaller groups, and discovered what those people needed—number of electrical outlets, club chairs vs. desk chairs and a table, etc. WeWork then started providing less space for conference rooms and more space for desks.

WeWork acquired CASE in 2015, and Miller, who now discovered he enjoyed consulting and working on the tech side, decided to create Proving Ground.

“I think he has a good sense of where the opportunities are in his practice,” Day says. “He’s more like a tech startup than an architect, so he’s coming at this as an architect, but in a tech way.”

Visit provingground.io for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Brush With Greatness

August 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

People don’t spend much time contemplating the products made by Omaha’s NAGL Manufacturing Company, but many certainly depend on them. Consider NAGL’s top product, the humble nail polish brush. When people apply a fresh coat of color to their toenails or fingernails, they typically think about the polish’s hue and brand, but it is rare to stop and consider the origin or merit of the tiny little brush that applies the paint to make one’s digits pop.

Anyone who has used nail polish in the past 80-plus years has almost certainly used a NAGL-made brush. Carl J. Nagl started the company in the mid 1930s in its original location near Johnny’s Cafe in South Omaha.

“We produce [brushes] for all the major nail polish brands,” says Erica McDonald, controller at NAGL. “NAGL used to make a wider variety of cosmetic brushes, but now we primarily do nail polish brushes and anything that might look like a nail polish brush but is used to apply something else.”

NAGL, currently the world’s largest supplier of nail enamel brushes, produces brushes and/or bottles for beloved brands like CoverGirl, OPI, Revlon, Avon, L’oreal, Sally Hansen, Maybelline, and many others.

“Every nail polish brand, really,” McDonald confirms.

While you would not think of a nail polish brush as a product requiring forward thinking, NAGL does their own development, like their flow-through brush, as well as customizing and creating per customer request. It might not happen daily, but they have created brushes for Essie’s gel couture bottle with a twisted design and Christian Louboutin’s striking, stiletto-esque bottle toppers.

“We are happy to accommodate customer-driven changes that allow for their own take on a brush or product,” McDonald says. “Customers come to us with an idea in mind, then we show them what’s possible within their budget and limitations. We like to give them the flexibility to do whatever they want.”

The company, currently located at 36th and Martha streets, changed hands several times and was eventually purchased in 2003 by Team Technology Inc., which helped NAGL branch into medical, dental, and automotive markets.       

In addition to making 2.5 million brushes every single day, NAGL annually produces more than 84 million oral swabs for use in medical facilities. The company also creates brushes for automotive touch-up paint, model kits, super glue, and antifungal solutions, plus caps, bottles, packaging solutions, a vibrating flosser, and more.    

“If you’d asked me before I started here, I would’ve guessed that this nail polish bottle, cap, and brush came from China,” McDonald says. “But it comes from Omaha, Nebraska. It’s kind of wild that these everyday products that you rely on to enhance your beauty come from here—much less this residential neighborhood.”   

In addition to being made-in-the-USA, the company prides itself on its sustainability practices.

“We distill 100 percent of our acetone and lacquer, and recycle the sludge that remains from distillation. This saves nearly 6,000 gallons of these hazardous substances from going into landfills each year and remains well below EPA requirements,” McDonald says. “We also reduced our waste output by 50 percent, starting in 2014, by implementing a full-facility recycling program. With a very plastics-heavy operation, it’s very important to protect the health and sustainability of our environment.”

Despite changes in ownership and product lines over the years, McDonald says NAGL remains a workplace that inspires employee loyalty. McDonald’s predecessor was with NAGL for 35 years, and human resources manager June Jones has worked there since the 1960s.

“It’s neat to work somewhere you’re actually making the product that you’re selling,” McDonald says. “You get more invested, and our team’s involved in the entire process.” 

Visit naglmfg.com for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Farris Engineering

July 21, 2017 by
Photography by Ariel Fried
This sponsored content appears in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0817_125/1?e=1413765/50121072

 

As Farris Engineering celebrates 50 years, its projects cover a wide spectrum—mechanical, electrical, fire protection, lighting, commissioning, construction administration—with a presence both nationwide and close to home, including the Bergan Mercy Medical Center renovation, K-12 schools in Nebraska and Iowa including nine Omaha Public Schools, central energy plants in Omaha and Lincoln, the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska Multisports Complex in La Vista, and many U.S. Air Force and Veterans Affairs projects.

“Farris Engineering is proud of our exceptional engineering design expertise. The tougher the challenge, the more we like the project,” president and CEO Tom Svoboda says. “We focus our designs on energy efficiency and life cycle costs. Recently we have been working to collaborate more with the owners and full design team to come up with optimal solutions.”

Svoboda says he is especially proud of the company’s emphasis on cultivating the next generation through mentoring and internships at both the high school and college level; Farris works with area institutions through programs like ACE Mentor (Architecture-Construction-Engineering) of Omaha and SAME (Society of American Military Engineers).

12700 W. Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68154
402.330.5900
farris-usa.com

Rachel Halbmaier

July 20, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Rachel Halbmaier is a woman with ideas, and she has the ability to convey these ideas in a way that makes people excited for what will come next. That’s why the former director of events and promotions for Lincoln’s entertainment district The Railyard is Greater Omaha Chamber’s Director of Riverfront Development for Missouri Commons. The job, which she accepted in February, is to oversee the activation of the riverfront area by increasing its usage for community events.

“I was uniquely qualified,” she admits, referencing her time in Lincoln. That position demanded that she plan and execute events while juggling the company’s social media and traditional promotions, and manage the staff of the Railyard Ice Rink and the Railyard Ambassadors.

“I have a lot I want to accomplish,” she says.

Donn Seidholz, chairman of the steering committee for Missouri Commons, revealed that more than 40 resumes from around the country were received for the position. “Clearly she was the heads-and-tails best pick,” he says. “She was absolutely the best choice for the job,” he says, adding that her “passion, excitement, and enthusiasm are infectious. We’re thrilled with Rachel.”

“We needed someone who could share the passion to activate the riverfront,” Seidholz says.

Halbmaier envisions events at the riverfront that will draw locals, and also compel people to travel here to attend. “We’re going to bring people together to make memories,” she predicted.

“I’d love to see a world-class festival down there, but I’d also like to see the space activated Monday through Friday as well. Maybe a music festival, or a food and wine festival. Or a triathlon, or a fashion show on the bridge, or maybe a pop-up dog park,” Halbmaier mused, overflowing with ideas on how to activate the available space. “I want to enhance what’s already there.”

Relationship-building is a critical part of this position, and she anticipates spending her first year connecting with community leaders and other people to understand what the riverfront can become while also fueling support for development. Growing up in Kenesaw, Nebraska, and attending school in Lincoln means that she didn’t necessarily have ample experience with the riverfront, but that is not an obstacle for her. Seidholz praises her proactive work ethic, stating, “She didn’t wait around for us to tell her what to do or who to meet.” Seidholz laughs and says that just when he thinks of someone with whom Halbmaier should meet, he finds out Halbmaier has already reached out to him or her. 

Her coming goals for the riverfront include bolstering the bond between Omaha and Council Bluffs, and “getting people down there and making them feel welcome.” Seidholz says Halbmaier can accomplish “just about anything,” and “has the full, undying support of everyone on the committee. The support has been unbelievable from Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.” This strong support, coupled with Halbmaier’s relentless drive, will most likely result in some great things to come for the riverfront.   

Visit omahachamber.org for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Commercial Flooring Systems, Inc.

July 14, 2017 by
Photography by Ariel Fried
This sponsored content appears in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0817_125/1?e=1413765/50121072

 

When Commercial Flooring Systems Business Development and Project Manager James Vanhauer Jr. describes the company as having a “family atmosphere,” there’s also a literal meaning: he represents the third generation to enter the field, under CEO Jim Sr.

For more than 25 years, the full-service flooring company has built a reputation for not compromising on quality, Vanhauer says. There’s objectivity from working with a range of manufacturers, and maintenance services to ensure the longest-lasting investments—sealing, restoration and polishing are all hot topics around their showroom and office in West Omaha.

Commercial Flooring Systems is a member of Starnet, a worldwide network of flooring professionals that enables their company to stay up to date with current trends. Locally, its work can be seen at such notable facilities as the Nebraska Medical Center-Lauritzen Outpatient Center, Creighton School of Law and Green Plains new corporate headquarters.

“We pride ourselves on doing things the right way and providing the most value, whether it’s with a contractor or directly with an organization,” Vanhauer says. “And our maintenance division offers support services that take that value a step further by reducing our customers’ cost of ownership and replacement costs.”

11008 John Galt Blvd.
Omaha, NE 68137
402.592.4383
cfsomaha.com

Omaha by Design

July 12, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When a new West Omaha Wal-Mart was being proposed in 2000, Connie Spellman remembers, someone questioned the difference between its uninspired, big-box design and a Wal-Mart with gabled parapets, lots of windows, and other visual details seen in Fort Collins, Colorado. An attorney responded that the Colorado community had adopted a set of design standards, sparking a conversation that eventually led to the 2001 establishment of Omaha by Design as an initiative of the Omaha Community Foundation.

“Omaha by Design was founded by three leading business owners in the community: Bruce Lauritzen, Ken Stinson, and John Gottschalk. They had the foresight to see that Omaha needed this capacity,” says Julie Reilly, who has been Omaha by Design’s executive director since 2015. “Without their leadership we would not have started down the path when we did and the way we did.”

Omaha by Design, now an independent nonprofit, works to improve the physical places in the community, using urban design principles and best practices as tools to address the issues of revitalization, development, environmental sustainability, and mobility while encouraging the creation of engaging and attractive places. Their projects range from the Benson-Ames Alliance, on which Omaha by Design serves as the project manager, to Public Art Omaha’s website and app.

“You need to have that voice that brings together the community, the city, developers, artists, the passionate environmental people,” says Spellman, Omaha by Design’s initial executive director. “It’s all about collaboration, engagement, and working together.”

In the beginning, it took “faith and patience,” she adds. At the time, there were no urban design professionals in city government.

“We were able to work with the community, and the developers, and everyday citizens, and the city [government] to create an urban design for the entire city,” she says.

That was the easy part.

“We learned you have to change the existing codes to implement the master plan…this is where it became more difficult. But after two years of constant negotiation, especially with the development community, the citizenry, and the city—who were wonderful—we passed all of the zoning codes and the urban design plan unanimously,” Spellman says.

Zoning code changes ultimately adopted via City Council approval were widespread. For instance, requirements for tree planting on new streets and individual lots became more stringent. A new designation, Area of Civic Importance, was created to allow for special guidelines protecting these designated areas and governing their development, from site layout to landscaping of access roads and parking. Another designation, mixed-zone, made possible walkable neighborhoods that connect to pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use centers at major intersections.

“We thought we would be lucky if we would see changes in 20 years,” Spellman says. “Well, we started seeing changes in two years.”

Since 2001, Omaha has seen neighborhoods revitalize and business districts resurrect or develop, and the people of the community now not only understand the term “urban design,” they see it firsthand, Reilly says.

“Looking at what Omaha by Design has done over the years, I think the most important thing is contributing to the concepts of urban design and policy, becoming part of the conversation for our city,” she explains. “The actual citizens and residents understand what urban design and policy best practice can bring to making their lives better in Omaha.”

The current membership of the board of directors and advisory committee represents more sectors of the community than ever, Reilly says. As a new nonprofit, “We’re still finding our way to a recipe that will allow our board of directors and our advisory committee to have the best impact for the organization but also be conscious of their volunteer contributions in terms of time and energy,” she explains. “We’re bringing people together from different sectors to discuss issues that are ultimately common between those sectors…We all want a better Omaha, a better greater metro area, a vibrant, livable city for all. Who wakes up every morning and thinks about the future of Omaha? We do.”

Visit omahabydesign.org for more information.

Julie Reilly

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Fair Deal Village MarketPlace

July 6, 2017 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

As a child, Terri Sanders visited the original Fair Deal Cafe on 24th Street with her father to eat breakfast or lunch, and experience a vibrant North Omaha.

Sanders says the cafe, known from the ’40s to ’70s as Omaha’s “Black City Hall,” was a popular meeting spot for politicians and local African-American leaders.

Now community leaders say the Fair Deal Village MarketPlace, a recently completed $2.4 million economic development project built on the footprint of the café, will increase commuter traffic and dramatically change the North 24th Street business corridor.

“The businesses are successful, and again—it’s a revitalization,” says Sanders, 59, a member of the Omaha Economic Development Corp. and the development’s site manager. “You never return to what it was, but you can certainly revitalize it and go forward into the future.”

OEDC partnered with Omaha-based architecture firm Alley Poyner Macchietto for the project, which was built between March 22 and Dec. 3, 2016. OEDC is a nonprofit that benefits North Omaha, which has a history of poverty and other socio-economic hardships.

Officials also are branding the development, located at 2118 N. 24th St., as an entertainment and arts district. In addition to a reinvented Fair Deal Cafe, the development includes the Fair Deal Grocery Market and eight Omaha-based artisanal businesses. The grocery store, which focuses on healthy foods, is open seven days a week, and the Fair Deal Cafe is closed on Mondays.

“It brings positive [change] to the corridor,” Sanders says. “These businesses provide not just economic development for the business owners, but it also provides jobs to support them.”

The other eight tenants include: Hand of Gold, a nail salon; Fashun Freak, a women’s clothing and accessory store; ABE (All Black Everything), a men’s contemporary clothing store; LikNu Boutique, a women’s clothing and accessory store; Mike’s Custom Creations, a custom shoe and cleaning business; Divine Nspirations, a Christian gift shop; It’z Poppin, a gourmet popcorn shop; and D-Marie Hair Boutique, a hair salon.

“I think by virtue of the businesses located there, it’s an artist area,” Sanders says. “It’s a historical district—first of all—and arts and culture are a part of that.”

But here’s the twist:

The majority of the development, just south of 24th and Burdette streets, is constructed via an arrangement of shipping containers. The seemingly unusual approach to building the structure is becoming a popular trend across the world.

“I think the container concept, in itself, is unique. We’re the first [commercial] container site in the State of Nebraska,” Sanders says. “It’s an economical way to provide retail spaces to businesses that were either home-based or internet-based on a consistent basis.”

More than 50 commercial spaces created from containers exist across the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and even Australia. Experts say the model effectively ups foot traffic. The alternative structure serves as a cost-effective and durable approach to community redevelopment.

Each container at the Omaha marketplace is fitted with heating and air conditioning, Sanders says. Six of them are 8-by-20 feet, and two are 16-by-20 feet. She also says the visual appeal of the development has increased foot traffic on North 24th Street.

“I noticed when there are activities at the Union [for Contemporary Arts], there are people that come down to the Fair Deal to eat and shop,” she says.

James Thele, planning director with the City of Omaha, describes the project as a solid foundation for future economic development along North 24th Street.

“We envisioned, as a community, North 24th Street as being an arts and entertainment center,” says Thele, who pointed to the nearby Union for Contemporary Arts.

The city’s contributions to the project included a $370,000 federal community development block grant and $195,000 in tax increment financing—or TIF, a common incentive that allows developers to use a portion of future property taxes to cover initial costs.

City officials also acquired an adjacent property to the marketplace, which will be converted into a parking lot connected to the new entertainment district.

Edward Dantzler, a city development section manager, says the 35-space lot will include two handicap accessible stalls. In total, the lot will cost $370,000, with completion in May.

“The parking lot and stalls will be reserved for the Fair Deal project,” Dantzler says.

Thele says while it’s “hard to argue” about the benefits of jobs and new business in North Omaha, it is important to see other prospects of the development.

“It attracts attention,” Thele says. “It creates a buzz, and that’s important.”

Sanders says further revitalization on 24th Street will help North Omaha continue to grow and become a destination for visitors throughout the city.

“And even though we’ve not been open six months, I’m starting to see that vibrance returning to the community,” she says.

Visit oedc.info for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Who’d Love to Have an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?

June 29, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is not your father’s muscle car of the 1960s.

Don’t tell that to Ashley Eisert, a 2016 University of Nebraska-Omaha graduate who relishes her job driving and promoting one of the world’s most famous vehicles.“It really does have a lot of pick-up,” Eisert says as she gets ready for another day on the job as a “Hotdogger.” (Yes, that is her official title.) “It might take a little bit to get from zero to 60, but it does have a lot of power to it. It can definitely haul bun,” she says.

If you get the feeling Eisert savors rolling in the 11-foot-tall, 27-foot-long hot dog, she does. Since last June, the former Papillion-LaVista South student has been wheeling through 27 states in one of six Wienermobiles as part of the company’s team.

In terms of famous four-wheelers, the Wienermobile ranks right up there with Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the many incarnations of the Batmobile, or—for you old-timers—that whiz-bang of a grand prix car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. All of them gained fame on the silver screen. (What do you mean you didn’t see the Wienermobile in 1992’s Ladybugs starring the late Rodney Dangerfield?)

But has there ever been such a novelty advertising vehicle that can get people to stand up through their sunroof, camera phone in hand, to honk and wave?

This bunderful story could get eaten up fast.

The first Wienermobile dates back to 1936 when Carl Mayer had an advertising idea for his Uncle Oscar: a 13-foot-long hot dog car that would travel through the streets of Chicago, advertising the meat-and-cold-cuts company that Oscar founded in 1883.

General Body Co. of Chicago made the first Wienermobile. Today the cars are constructed by Prototype Source, a Santa Barbara, California-based designer of mobile marketing vehicles. In 2004, the company started working with automotive designer Harry Bradley—best known for his Mattel Hot Wheels car designs—to completely produce the custom-made vehicles. Everything down to the windshield wipers is made special.

So what lies under the 14,050-pound vehicle? (That’s 140,500 hot dogs, according to Oscar Mayer’s official fact sheet.) The custom-made, grilled fiberglass dog sits atop a lightly-toasted fiberglass bun on a converted GM Chevrolet four-speed/W4 series chassis with a V8, 6.0 liter, 300 horsepower Vortec 5700 engine.

Each of the six Wienermobiles features a snazzy interior complete with six ketchup-and-mustard-colored captain seats, a gull-wing door with retractable steps, a removable “bunroof,” carpet featuring a condiment-splattered pattern, and sunny, blue sky ceiling art. There is storage space for thousands of Wiener Whistles, a custom-built, solar-powered stereo with a microphone system on which hotdoggers can  speak to people during parades, and a horn that plays the Oscar Mayer jingle in 21 different music genres. Oh, and it runs on unleaded and gets “thousands of smiles per gallon.”

How long does it take to build one of these specialized vehicles that is 18 hot dogs wide? “Franks for asking!” Prototype Source Owner Dorian Duke did not say.

“From the time we install the fiberglass body on a chassis to installing all the custom electrical, audio, and video, is between 16 and 22 weeks,” Duke says. “We started off with the Wienermobile, and pretty soon people were asking us to make other special product mobiles. We’ve made the Hershey’s “Kissmobile,” the Kellogg’s “Tonymobile,” the Pepperidge Farm “Goldfish,” and quite a
few others.

There is even a free Wienermobile app you can download to track the orange-and-yellow monstrosities. According to the product description, you can “relish the opportunity to ketchup with the Wienermobile” and buckle up, “ride shot-bun, pilot the big dog,” and tour the country with hotdoggers.

Yes, automotive enthusiasts, this car is a real wiener.

Visit oscarmayer.com/wienermobile for more information.

Oscar Mayer owns six Wienermobiles

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Writer Sean Weide passed away unexpectedly on May 30, 2017. He wrote only a few articles for Omaha Magazine, but they were always well-researched and well-written. I personally wish the Weide family the ability to find peace.

— Daisy Hutzell-Rodman, B2B Managing Editor.