Gene Leahy Mall open for business once again

Nadia Karim Reporter

The renovations of the Gene Leahy Mall came to a close in July of 2022. The mall is now open off the edge of Downtown Omaha for all families to enjoy; 325 million dollars later, the Leahy mall has attracted people from all over the area, one of them being Tristan Trotter. 

“I’ve been going to the park significantly more after the changes. The fact that there are always so many people, and even food trucks, there makes everything more lively and fun,” Trotter said.

Trotter has been living in Bellevue for most of his life and was constantly looking for a go-to place to hang around at with friends and family. He would go to nearby parks and local restaurants and coffee shops, but nothing was satisfying his desire to find this go-to place. One amenity that was a deciding factor in Tristan’s search for a nice place to hang out was the seating.

“My favorite part is the variety of seating. There are so many nice places to sit whether it be on the edge of the water, on the grass terrace, or on the swinging benches. The seating itself is very modern, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing,” Trotter said. 

Trotter describes the previous seating as worn down and uncomfortable which made it hard for him to enjoy the way the park used to be. He now describes the seating as diverse and comfortable which made it exceptionally easy for him to be at the park; however, one of his least favorite parts is the “no-wheels rule.’

“I feel like foot traffic and biking/skating go hand in hand in any city. I understand that they can get in the way or be dangerous at times, but banning them eliminates a fun transportation option for a lot of people who would act responsibly,” Trotter said. 

Trotter is always using his electric longboard to navigate around the city, so by implementing the “no-wheels” rule, Trotter is unable to do this sort of transportation and describes his experiences at the park as longer, and more physically active than relaxing, when wanting to get from place to place. Like Trotter, Jaden Orange-Smith also has some things she wishes would change.

“If I could change anything about the Leahy Mall, I’d ass more swings that don’t face the sun. During the summer, the swings would often fill up quickly or they’d face the very hot sun,” Orange-Smith said.

Leahy mall isn’t perfect and there are some people such as Orange-Smith and Trotter that wish to change things; however, many people believe that the diversity of the park brings families together. One of these people includes Kim Reiner, the founder of OhMy! Omaha. 

“The changes were very much needed since that space has been under utilized. I used to take my kids there, but in recent years, it just seemed rundown and uncomfortably empty. With so many new updates and activities, I bet it’s attracting a lot more people, including my family, to the area,” Reiner said.

With new additions including, slides, ping pong tables, playgrounds, and better seating arrangements, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that this park will continue to be a popular attraction in Downtown Omaha. With little to nothing that needs to really change, Downtown can expect to see a flood of people enjoying the park. Reiner describes this place as pretty much the perfect place to be.

“I’m impressed with the design and all the updates. There doesn’t seem to be anything missing,” Reiner said.