Tag Archives: Sterling Ridge

The Divine She.la

May 10, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“I’m divinely happy where I am,” She.la owner Sheila Christ says of her store’s new location. In fact, you could almost say her choice of location for her women’s and children’s apparel business, in the Sterling Ridge development near 132nd and Pacific streets, was “divinely” inspired; Christ was attending a memorial service at nearby Temple Israel when she was struck with the realization that she had finally found the perfect site—after a year of searching—for relocation.

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“I looked around and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, the light out here is magical,’” she says. “It turned out to be a beautiful fit for us. We knew our lease was up and we had been looking at all kinds of options including the purchase of our own building, and we just couldn’t find the right size and the right corridor of the city…long story short, I come out here after looking and looking and looking and struck a deal with the Lockwood Development people within about 36 hours. It was very quick.”

So, in November, after 18 years (and two remodels) at Countryside Village, She.la moved three-and-a-half miles directly west into its new 4,000-plus square-feet location. Excited to have the opportunity to start with a vanilla shell for the first time, Christ worked with Eddy Santamaria of Contrivium Design + Urbanism to design the new space. Santamaria, who Christ calls a “visionary,” had served as Christ’s architect for several residential projects and the last remodel for the former She.la.

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“He ‘gets’ us,” Christ says. “His architectural eye will weigh in and make you think outside of what (you think) is possible…If the architecture will allow for it and the pocketbook will afford it, anything is possible.”

The former location encompassed two floors, and Christ says having all operations on one level ensures all employees feel connected. The new She.la also boasts a flexible space including a kitchenette, which was first put to the test with a successful trunk show in January. And the sky’s the limit for potential events; Christ is considering everything from wine tastings to meditation seminars to hands-on art demonstrations for children.

“It’s a space that allows for complete intimacy but you’re able to have a connected event happening,” Christ says.

Moving after 18 years was an inspiration to streamline, Christ says, and the new store has an upscale, spacious feel. It retains, however, some longstanding features familiar to established patrons, including its signature shade of orange. A careful selection of lighting elements and major fixtures were transferred or replicated. New décor was incorporated, including creations by local Hot Shops artisans like fabric art from Kris Khan, metalworks from Chris Kemp and glass art by Valerie Spellman Batt. With both northern and southern exposure, the space is filled with natural light that showcases both environment and merchandise.

“It’s high-style but it has warmth. That was important to me,” Christ said. “And it’s an absolutely unbelievable space to work in.”

It sounds magical.

Visit shopshela.com for more information.

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The Best of All Worlds

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Let’s dispense with the references to a certain ’70s sitcom right off the bat. Yes, Jennifer and Bryan Yannone are the parents of a blended family of six kids. Yes, Bryan is project director for Lockwood Development and Bloomfield Custom Homes, a position with some surface similarities to the architecture job of his TV dad counterpart. And, yes, the Yannones are a telegenic couple with a warm, relaxed vibe.

But their new home, the first in Sterling Ridge at 132nd and Pacific in Omaha, represents more than just the union of two families. It is the convergence of several decidedly 21st-century ideas about diversity, work-life balance, smart-home technology, and the logistics of new urban planning in an already very established part of the city.Bryan-4_web

Sterling Ridge is a mixed-use development of commercial, residential, retail, and religious space. When completed, the 153-acre site will feature more than 700,000 square feet of office space, 30 high-end custom homes, 10 villas, retail, restaurants, an assisted living facility, a hotel, and the Tri-Faith Initiative: a collaboration of Temple Israel, The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and The American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture.

The very location of the site signifies this spirit of inclusiveness. It was once home to the venerable Highland Country Club, established in 1924 as a club where Jewish members would be welcome. (Highland changed hands in the 1990s and the newly-named Ironwood shuttered and was sold to Lockwood Development at a bank auction in 2010.)Bryan-12_web

In a city that is constantly expanding to points west, north, and south, the central location also acts as an integration point for several parts of town.

This was especially important to the Yannones, who had children in two separate school districts. “There was nowhere in Midtown Omaha where you could build a new, custom home without having to knock down an existing home,” says Jennifer, a gifted and talented facilitator for Omaha Public Schools.

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As members of the community and because of their family association with the development company, the Yannones are particularly sensitive to the historical and civic importance of the property. “People were disappointed when Ironwood closed,” Jennifer acknowledges. “Lockwood wanted to make this development worth the sacrifice. For every tree they took down, they planted five more. They spared no expense to provide a community feel.”

Inside the seven-bedroom, 5,700-square-foot Yannone home, that communal sense is most keenly felt in the open kitchen, dining, and seating area that serves as the focal point of the family’s activities. “We spend most of our time between these three rooms,” says Jennifer of the multi-functional space which features clean lines and cool, neutral colors. “I wanted it to look contemporary, but still homey and livable.”

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The family worked with Lisa Shrager of LMK Concepts and Megan Bret of Exquisite Finishes on the home’s interiors. “The trick was making the home durable and low-maintenance without compromising style,” says Shrager. She achieved the family’s desired blend of a sleek look and a warm vibe by balancing hard, manmade surfaces like the kitchen backsplash comprised of multiple metals including stainless steel and bronze, with natural materials like stained rich oak wood on the cabinetry and granite countertops.

This harmony reverbates around the room: a mantle of 12×24-inch tile acts as a horizontal counterpoint to the strong vertical presence of the fireplace itself. This is geometrically echoed in light, linear tiling that serves as bridge between the three sections of the main family space and on the flooring and walls throughout the home.


The children picked their own colors, themes, and bedding for their rooms: a Husker motif for the youngest, Brayden Yannone (9); sports for the two middle boys, Baylen Yannone (11) and Drew Gibbons (12); music and guitar for the eldest boy, Luke Gibbons (14); and inspiring quotes for Jennifer’s daughter, Michaela Gibbons (17). Her older daughter, Jessica Gibbons (21), lives away at college but has claimed a room on the lower level for school breaks.

The Mediterranean-inspired exterior of the home, which also serves as a model for Bloomfield Custom Homes, was Bryan’s idea. Its sand-colored stucco and stone ediface, crowned by hipped roofs, envelops an open, road-facing courtyard and would not be out of place among the revival mansions of Pasadena. “I wanted a home that was a vacation.”

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Before they could kick back and enjoy, the family had to educate themselves about the various “smart” features of their home, most of which, including cameras, garage doors, lights, and music, can be operated from an iPad. “When you walk out the door, there’s an off button. You can shut off the whole house!” Jennifer says with glee. “Before we moved in, we had to take the kids around, ‘This is how you shut off the lights…’”

And while the Yannone-Gibbons clan is clearly having fun with the more dazzling features of their new stomping grounds (such as the time Michaela called Jennifer from downstairs to tell her it was too warm and Jennifer “fixed it” without leaving the comfort of her sofa), their parents are careful to keep them grounded.


“They all think we live in a mansion,” Jennifer laughs. “But we remind them that we’re blessed to have this. When school’s out, we do a lot of volunteering, like at the Open Door Mission.”

“With the house came new responsibilities,” says Bryan. “It’s a group effort to keep a house this size, but the children have become very efficient about it.”

It’s a synthesis formula that the businesses, other families, and spiritual communities of Sterling Ridge would do well to copy. As Jennifer puts it, “We all pitch in and take care of what we have.”

For more information on this unique mixed-use development, visit sterlingridge.com.