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President | PJ Morgan
Rich in history, The Mastercraft building in north downtown Omaha is a place filled with an entrepreneurial spirit that dates back to 1925 when the Katzman family began Mastercraft furniture – a journey that led them, in 1941 to open their 140,000 square-foot factory at 1111 No 13 Street. Today it is a budding creative center that is drawing companies from design to architecture to law, many of which either have or are moving in.
With ample parking, and close to TD Ameritrade Park, new hotels and the city’s river walk, The Mastercraft building is a destination in downtown Omaha. Its high ceilings, clerestory windows and rough sawn lumber joists give it a uniqueness that feeds unmistakable creativity energy.
"Am I responsible for The Mastercraft becoming this creative Mecca? I don’t think so," said Robert Grinnell, the building’s owner. "Creative folks are attracted to one another. They all feed off of the collective energy."
Grinnell sees his job as protecting the integrity of the building while renovating with high standards so that he builds an image of The Mastercraft that will make tenants and the city proud.
It hasn’t always been that way. After the Katzman family sold the furniture business to an Iowa company in 2003, the building sat empty for two years becoming dilapidated and the victim of thieves who stole anything of value. An attempt to sell the building was not successful and went to auction, where Grinnell bought it.
He describes two of the best decisions he made early as hiring a great representative to list and market the building and an architect with a clear vision of how to turn a 70-year-old ugly furniture factory into an eye popping deco-themed space.
"It made the most sense to create a common corridor through the middle of the building with a common entry and restrooms," Grinnell explained. "Since the building is 3 blocks long, it was practical to develop the southern third first. We now have developed 2/3 of the building for reuse."
Think of it this way, The Mastercraft is the length of three football fields put end-to-end. Two of them prepared for business use and new tenants contact us almost daily about leasing space.
Grinnell’s vision to restore rather than destroy The Mastercraft, has shaped a building where the past and the future come together in a structural work of art that inspires the kind of creative ingenuity, this building has known for decades.