Entrepreneurs are bringing new life to old office buildings on historic North 24th Street | National News

OMAHA — A newly renovated building at 24th and Lake streets was the right space in the right place at the right time for entrepreneurs Theardis “Teddy” Young and CharDale Barnes to continue growing their own business while helping other small businesses and North Omaha grow, too.

Young and Barnes recently moved the headquarters of their marketing, branding and web services firm, Stable Gray, to a retail space at 2520 N. 24th St. It is part of Fabric, an urban development of five commercial spaces and three apartments on the west side of 24th Street north of the lake.

The move by Stable Gray brings another local, for-profit, black-owned business to the historic North 24th Street business district, which is undergoing revitalization.



“It’s exciting to be a part of it,” Young said amid a flurry of cheerful conversation among about 50 people during Stable Gray’s grand opening ceremony last week. “Just with the energy that’s going on down here and the synergy. There are so many organizations and companies working hard to bring 24th Street back to where it once was. It happens. We are just a part of it.”

Young, 39, and Barnes, 38, were born and raised in North Omaha. Young graduated from Benson High School and Barnes from North High School. They first met at church where they worked on different aspects of production. At the time, Young was working as a freelancer in graphic design and marketing. Barnes had a background in sound engineering, photography and video, but was about to go to Omaha Code School.

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CharDale Barnes poses for a portrait Tuesday outside his business, Stable Gray, at 2520 N. 24th St.

After Barnes graduated from coding classes, they launched their business in 2015. They started with a few basic media services, with the goal of helping businesses build strong brands at affordable prices. In their first seven years, they expanded to offer multiple services including brand photography, custom websites, graphic design and corporate video production.

The North 24th Street space will be their headquarters. Barnes hopes to grow the business from the current four employees, including himself and Young, to a workforce of eight to 10 people making six figures. They are maintaining their previous space, at 3223 N. 45th St., as a dedicated photo and video studio and for rent.

Stable Gray has worked for a variety of companies and organizations, including Union Pacific Railroad, 75 North, Charles Drew Health Center, Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering, First State Bank, Scooter’s Coffee, Omaha Star, Two Girls Cleaning and Jadomte’ Mobile Nail Bar.

“Our business is helping businesses build the brand of their dreams,” said Young.

These include specialties in helping organizations reach diverse audiences and helping small businesses grow. That includes black-owned and other minority businesses, which is part of what made the North 24th Street location attractive.

“We wanted to have a business in North Omaha,” Young said. “This is a necessary service that is needed for business growth. Having it here, it’s about access.”

But minority-owned businesses typically have less access to branding and marketing services, he said.

“A lot of minority businesses have to get off the ground, and if you’re doing a startup, you usually don’t have enough margin to market,” Young said. “So we’re also making it affordable.”

Stable Gray’s new neighbors in the Fabric development include longtime neighborhood specialist, Styles of Evolution. Owned by founders Don and Yvonne McPherson for 16 years, the clothing store has temporarily relocated from its corner location at 2522 N. 24th Street, and will return once renovations are complete. Fabric Lab, an urban design space and community center, is located at 2514 N. 24th St. North End Teleservices has another storefront in the complex and has done some pop-ups there.

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The newly renovated building on 24th Street is part of the historic business district of North 24th Street, which is undergoing revitalization.

The Fabric development connects at 24th and Ohio streets to one end of the North Omaha Trail, a bike and pedestrian route under construction. Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church is located to the north. To the south, North Omaha Music & Arts will fill the former event and exhibition space that houses Love’s Jazz and Art Center.

Across East 24th Street, North End Teleservices plans a mixed-use development with its new corporate headquarters plus lodging, food service and day care. The Carver Legacy Center recently opened around the corner to the west. The Union for Contemporary Arts, southeast of 24th and Lake, is renovating another old building into the Shirley Tyree Theater. As Young and Barnes cut the ribbon on their business last week, workers were working on a construction fence for the theater.

“This is an exciting time,” Young said.

Manne Cook, a former city planner who is leading the development of Fabric and the North Omaha Trail, among other efforts, said there is a lot of potential and opportunity in the area, and that there will be a lot of positive growth in the next year. There is discussion, he said, about whether that part of North 24th Street is being redeveloped as a business district, a cultural district, an innovation district or a historic district.

“In my opinion, it’s all of those things,” Cook said.

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