Tag Archives: Kimball Lofts

A Family Downtown

December 9, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It helps to have an elevator.

Which is just what Kristin Brown tells friends and the curious whenever they ask how in the world she’s going to get that baby stroller and other infant paraphernalia into her home. “We always get the question, ‘How are you going to carry all the baby gear in from the car when living on the second floor?’” Brown says. “To their surprise, our response is ‘Do you have an elevator in your home?’

“It’s not any more difficult living off ground level to get groceries or gear inside. It’s quite easy, and not something that should discourage someone from living in a condo.”

Kristin and her husband, Scott, have been doing just that since 2007 when the couple moved into the Kimball Lofts at 15th and Jones streets.

They had figured that when they began their life together, it would be in a house: The kind with a yard and a driveway (and mowing and shoveling). They were suburbanites, after all. Both grew up in west Omaha, attending Millard North High School together before graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 

Their first search for a home brought them to the Dundee neighborhood. The Browns found a house they liked but waited too long to bid on it. It was snatched up by the next day. Soon thereafter, Kristin got Scott to join her on the Downtown Condo Living Tour. That took them to Kimball Lofts.

“Neither of us had spent much time Downtown, but we knew we loved city living,” Kristin says. “Within minutes of touring the Kimball Lofts building we could picture ourselves starting our lives there as a married couple.

“The minimalist lifestyle was most appealing. We knew we’d use every bit of space in our condo. And we love to travel, so being able to pick up and go without the responsibilities that came with a traditional home was important to us.”

Still, the Browns figured their downtown living was only meant for two—and not for children. Once a third Brown was added, they’d get a home with a yard. “We assumed that’s where we’d end up sooner rather than later,” Kristin says. Sooner came in 2014 with Kristin due to give birth to her first child, Brock,  in August. It wouldn’t be long until the 1,500 square feet they were sharing wouldn’t be enough.

They considered building on a lot in West Omaha, but without knowing how large their family would grow, found it difficult to commit to plans. They wanted something move-in ready. They found it across the hall in the largest condo in Kimball Lofts. Their neighbors had moved out. The Browns moved in. Now they had two bedrooms and gobs of entertaining space amid nearly 2,600 square feet.

“We decided to reevaluate our desires and what was important to us,” Kristin says.

The condo is ideal for entertaining. Natural light floods every room through tall windows inset into exposed exterior brick walls. The tops of young trees along 15th Street are visible and promise a dazzling palette come every fall.

Guests first enter a large kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances and a long stone countertop that seats six at bar stools. That flows into the living room and dining room, where the Browns have a table that can host 16 guests when it unfolds. Off the dining room is a small deck where Scott frequently grills. There’s a room for baby Brock and a spacious master bedroom. The ceiling is high and exposed throughout.

Kristin parks underground in a heated garage; Scott has a street-level stall in a gated lot. Their commute is almost nonexistent as both work downtown in sales, Scott at Gallup, Kristin with Pfizer.

“Not having to fight traffic day after day is a huge benefit,” she says.

Yes, there are space constraints. In their previous condo, Scott’s bikes—he rides regularly and competes in triathlons—were stored in the hallway. There’s room for them now in a closet, but today the baby stroller takes residence in the hallway. And the dryer is stacked atop the washer in their walk-in closet (at least there’s no trip to put away clean clothes).

But if they have to do with less stuff, they certainly have more stuff to do. The Browns are outside more often, perhaps, than their suburban counterparts with yards. From their condo, Scott can hit trails that take him through Iowa on the Wabash Trace or to Fort Calhoun. They walk downtown frequently—to the pedestrian bridge or throughout the Old Market. And quite frequently to dinner.

“Being able to walk out our front door to the best restaurants in Omaha is a huge perk,” Kristin says. “And everyone knows everyone. There’s nothing better than going to the local market or our favorite restaurant or coffee shop and being greeted by our first name.”

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Urban Living in Style

October 20, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Twelve years ago, Billy Coburn moved to Omaha and settled in the Old Market near 15th and Jones streets. He would often look across the street at two sturdy long-lived buildings being used as warehouses and think how perfect they would be if renovated into lofts.

“I had my eye on them for almost seven years,” said Coburn. He was one of the first in line to buy when renovation began on combining the two buildings into 31 new lofts.

Coburn in his loft.

Coburn in his loft.

Coburn is now not only a resident in Kimball Lofts—he also handles the project for Prudential Real Estate. The man who calls himself an urban and eco-modern specialist has sold more than 65,000 square feet of living space in Downtown Omaha, the equivalent of almost 1.5 acres.

The two buildings combined to create Kimball Lofts each have a story. The Graham Ice Cream building built in the 1890s holds a place in national history. The Eskimo Pie was created there. After Russell Stover saw chocolate-dipped ice cream at the Iowa State Fair, he brought the idea to Omaha. Stover later went on to become a well-known candy maker. The second building is the Kimball Laundry that was constructed in the late 1920s.

Coburn and Boris, his easy-going English bulldog, live in a 1,100-square-foot airy loft that has one large bedroom and two baths. Exposed concrete walls give the loft an “urban grit” feel. You can’t tell it from his mournful face, but Boris is one happy pooch. Sculptor John Lajba has invited loft residents to use a fenced-in area near his studio across the street as a dog park. It’s the only dog park in the Old Market, added Coburn.

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A 360-degree view from the rooftop terrace awaits tenants for informal gatherings. On the first level, a community room with a kitchenette is often used for cook-offs called “downtown throw-downs.” Homeowner meetings are also held there. Underground and outdoor parking is available.

Coburn said neighbors in his building have a great communal spirit. “Tenants argue over who will watch my dog when I’m gone. One woman who lives here had a stroke. The tenants rallied around her.”

A compact kitchen provides ample storage space in Coburn’s loft. Counters are marble; granite also is available. The kitchen is open to the living space and shares a view through large windows.

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A small deck has room for two chairs for contemplating the Old Market view. “But I rarely sit there,” he said. “I live downtown to be downtown. Sitting isolated isn’t as appealing as the rooftop or Starbucks. Urban living is about the street scene and the community of like-minded people sharing sports, arts, theatre, concerts, coffee and drinks, food, and life experiences in a way that cannot happen in a suburban setting. The beauty for urban commuters is that once you’re home for the weekend, you never have to get in your car again.”

An exercise room sits ready for tenants. An enthusiastic bicyclist, Coburn rarely has time to ride outdoors. Instead, he teaches indoor cycling at Prairie Life Fitness at Midtown six times a week.

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Boris hangs out in the small guest bath. The master bath has two sinks, a granite countertop, and a walk-in shower with glass doors. A large walk-in closet goes well with the spacious bedroom.

Removing an old elevator shaft and moving the new shaft created room for a three-story atrium with skylights, which provide light for windows in all the lofts. In fact, the light is so bright that Coburn installed shades for the bedroom window so he can sleep.

Originally from Guthrie, Okla., Coburn has lived in Denver and Phoenix. He uses his creative talents to help some of his Prudential customers design the interiors of their homes. Coburn’s interest in art has resulted in a colorful and interesting collection in his loft. “One of Omaha’s great assets is its art community. I try to support that,” he said.

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He describes his style as Mid-Century modern, “shades of the ’50s and ’60s,” and the décor of his loft as Mid-Century, urban reflected in the pottery, chairs, bubble lamps, and bar stools.

Coburn noted that many people in the Old Market have second homes there. “They come from Hebron, Norfolk, Fremont, and Kansas City. They come to the city for weekend events or on business.

“I make it my mission to help introduce people to people and people to places throughout the downtown area,” he said. “One of my clients lovingly referred to me as the ‘friend-cupid’ because of the significant relationships she and her husband built through introductions of like-minded friends.”