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Last Updated Thursday, December 12, 2011

New Property Acquisition Directly Across From New Stadium

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Omaha World Herald Article: Written By: Jeff Robb  December 7, 2011 (Content provided by OWH Online

 A prime piece of property across the street from TD Ameritrade Park has sold to new owners who are familiar with north downtown.

Now the buyers — partners from Zesto and the Old Mattress Factory Bar and Grill — are weighing plans that could turn a nondescript building and more than an acre of property into a new hot spot.

"The sky's kind of the limit," said Jenny Peters, a spokeswoman and event planner for the Mattress Factory.

The property reaches up to the corner of 13th and Mike Fahey Streets — right across from TD Ameritrade Park's ticket window — but the property's existing one-story building sits away from the intersection down 13th Street. The new Zesto location, due to open next year, will be just to the east across a set of railroad tracks, while the Mattress Factory and its parking lot sit to the south.

A group of Zesto and Mattress Factory owners formed a joint venture to purchase the property, paying $2.23 million last month.

Union Pacific Railroad, which formerly operated a science lab in the building, had owned the property, leasing it more recently to RSI Materials.

Union Pacific said it received a lot of interest in the property and asked the eventual buyers to provide their development plans, which the company says will keep with the overall redevelopment around the stadium.

Pat Lacy, a Mattress Factory owner and investor in the property, said the group is still working with Alley Poyner Macchietto architects to develop concepts for the property.

Alley Poyner, whose offices are in north downtown, has helped craft the district's urban design, working with the Slowdown complex and Bluestone Development's retail, office and apartment project at 13th and Cuming Streets, along with the Mattress Factory and Zesto.

Lacy said the group will keep the existing building, which could be developed into retail shops or a new restaurant. The building's structure is strong enough, he said, that it could support extra floors that might house apartments.

For now, the building has been gutted, and a fence around the property has been removed.

For the 2012 College World Series, Peters said, the property could become an extension of the Mattress Factory's Omaha Baseball Village, a collection of vendor tents with CWS merchandise, food, drinks and music.

But Peters said the new property owners are thinking about permanent, year-round attractions.

The owners also will be meeting with officials from the City Planning Department, which has encouraged densely developed projects in north downtown with retail at street level and apartments above that.

Chad Weaver, assistant planning director, said that if the owners redevelop the property, the department hopes the plans provide an impact for north downtown.

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