When people talk about my best qualities (doesn’t happen as often as you’d think), the one thing they all say is that I’m good at being humble.
I’m really good at being humble. The best.
That’s one of the reasons I like property management. I get to drive around this great city of ours, point at some of the coolest buildings around and just say “MINE!”
The newly-renovated Rail & Commerce Building is no different. In all honesty, it has probably steam-engined its way to the front of my “Most Awesomest Buildings I Manage” list (it’s a working title). Out of all the amazing redevelopment happening in Omaha, I get to spend a large chunk of my day working on and with the Rail & Commerce Building, right across from Burlington Station at the 10th Street bridge.
The Rail & Commerce Building, originally built as the Burlington Mail Terminal, was used for just that purpose – a mail terminal – in the 1800 and early 1900s. Before an investment team led by Jon Crane, President of Boyd Jones Construction, purchased the building in 2010, it had sat vacant for nearly 40 years. I use the term “vacant” very loosely – along with vermin and a cast of other colorful characters, the property was also full of (and I’m not being cute here) planes, trains and automobiles.
I’ve been involved with the property for a relatively inconsequential length of time (the building has been there since the 1800s, after all), but the time required at a property as unique as this makes me feel like there isn’t a square foot I’m not intimately familiar with. The investment of time, money, blood, sweat and tears over the last seven years had come to fruition with a beautiful building form yester-year; an immaculate integration of the old and the new.
The tenants in the building are no different, from long-time staples in our community, to new and emerging businesses. Boyd Jones Construction calls the Rail & Commerce home for its new corporate headquarters. Warren Distribution, founded in 1922, has one of the most unique views of Omaha’s skyline from its perch on our top two floors.
I would be remiss to not mention Commerce Village, a new, innovative work space that occupies an entire floor itself. Surrounded by original brick, glass and even a commercial-sized mail chute, the space provides room and opportunity for businesses looking to grow, allowing people the ability to rent individual desks by the week or office space by the year.
I mentioned the mail chute, but that is just one of many fixtures original to the building that have been preserved through the renovation. Right inside the street-level patio area on the east end of the building sits the door to a safe originally used over a hundred years ago. The new gym built on the lower level overlooks the still-active train tracks just outside of the Rail & Commerce. Beautiful fire doors now serve as conference room doors, and while the building has two new elevators, the original doors remain a sight to be seen. These are just a small handful of the classic touches that have been maintained and repurposed.
The Rail & Commerce Building is just one piece of a revitalization movement spreading throughout Omaha, but it’s by far my favorite. The mix of old and new tells a perfect story about where we’ve been, where we are, and most importantly, where we are heading. The commitment shown to our community is nothing short of inspiring. The future is now, and I suppose, so is the past. What a time to be alive in this beautiful city of ours – ALL ABOARD!
Fun fact: the building was originally built to support railway traffic on the lowest level (a level that was split into two entirely separate floors as a part of Boyd Jones’ renovation).