About

Our Mission

The RiverFront provides an inclusive, culturally enriching space that creates connectivity throughout the heart of downtown Omaha, honors the Missouri River, cultivates growth, and strengthens the bond of community through daily activation and robust park programming.

The RiverFront is a centralized gathering place for locals, and a space where visitors can feel like a local, too. This public park serves as a gateway between the historic Old Market and north downtown Omaha while providing a scenic pathway down to the Missouri River’s shore. Already The RiverFront has spurred additional transformation in downtown Omaha with new restaurants and retail space popping up in the surrounding areas, increasing vibrancy of the city’s core. While modernization has been a primary goal of the redesign, The RiverFront also honors the area’s past by preserving beloved structures, protecting storied buildings and rehabilitating aging fixtures. Between flourishing native landscaping, robust public art and recreational diversity, The RiverFront has something for everyone.

Community

The RiverFront was made possible thanks to community generosity. A remarkable public-private partnership helped to fund the $325 million project, with $50 million contributed by the City of Omaha and the remaining balance donated by local philanthropists. This advantageous approach ensured the project’s expediency and provided an important investment in the city’s future.

While it’s owned by the City of Omaha, The RiverFront is privately managed by the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA). MECA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that also operates the CHI Health Center Omaha arena and convention center and Charles Schwab Field Omaha ballpark, both located in the north downtown area. MECA oversees the everyday activation and maintenance of The RiverFront, while providing oversight of park operations and security.

Design

The design and vision for The RiverFront came from the award-winning minds at OJB Landscape Architecture. By examining the existing territory and acknowledging current hurdles, a new concept took shape placing a renewed emphasis on open, accessible space and groundbreaking components. Local experts with Omaha-based HDR helped to navigate numerous engineering obstacles, with the highly talented team from Kiewit Infrastructure Group ensuring the construction timeline and completion. Multiple design consultants dreamed up some of The RiverFront’s most unique and headlining features to include Gensler architecture firm, Safdie Rabines Architects, Atelier Ten, Fluidity, Alvine Engineering, Applied Ecological Services Inc. and RSM Design.

In addition, several Omaha-area subcontractors provided imperative contributions throughout the construction process including Lanoha Nurseries, Miller Electric, Outdoor Recreation Products, C2 and Shawmark Concrete. The RiverFront could not have become a reality without the local workforce’s valuable participation.

The RiverFront’s intentional design includes welcoming vast park spaces, extraordinary destinations such as the Arches Playground, Cascades interactive water feature and the Skate Ribbon, along with deliberately maintained facilities. By providing enriching activities and unifying programming, The RiverFront provides a foundation for community connection, all anchored by the peacefully meandering Missouri River and its boundless resources.

Award

Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure – Envision Platinum Award

Recycling

Recycling

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Lighting

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Envision Award

Envision Award

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From design to construction and everyday operations, sustainability is a primary goal of The RiverFront. Upon its inception as the Riverfront Revitalization Project, a concerted effort prioritized limitation of environmental impact while assuring the park would be functional for generations to come. Additionally, utilization of local talent and regionally sourced materials has ensured maximization of resources.

Throughout renovations of Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing, many community assets were preserved, restored or repurposed, some even redistributed into various parts of the city. Items such as artwork, benches and handrails were upcycled for continued use; limestone has been carefully removed and is being utilized in another city park; and pallets of bricks were collected and stored for preservation of the Old Market’s historic cobblestone streets. Other pieces, such as existing boardwalk pallets, are being reused in parts of The RiverFront.

Along with the addition of open and accessible green space in the heart of downtown Omaha, The RiverFront also improves connectivity and navigation of the city’s core. A comprehensive trail system enhances mobility throughout the three parks and creates a distinct pathway to the Missouri River. The addition of widened sidewalks, targeted crosswalks, enhanced walkways, bicycle lanes, bicycle-sharing programs and pedestrian bridges create a broad ease of movement while enhancing the connection between south and north Omaha. Recycling receptacles and water-bottle refilling stations are also available at The RiverFront.

Prioritization of sustainability also guarantees vitality of The RiverFront, its amenities and infrastructure. Before the addition of new features and improvements, the construction team updated aging foundational elements to support long-term functionality so that fountains may bubble, playgrounds can dazzle and landscaping flourishes for the foreseeable future.

Even the simplicity of tree and plant selection within The RiverFront demonstrates a commitment to longevity. Primary landscaping components were grown in the Omaha metropolitan area before their transplant into the park. Native flora is being reintroduced into this area for the benefit of territorial wildlife. Additionally, these plant species are best suited to survive in Nebraska’s volatile climate, minimizing replacements and encouraging successful establishment. The RiverFront’s greenery and flowers have been selected to attract pollinators, songbirds and the various fauna that make up a strong riverside ecosystem.

In late 2021, The RiverFront became the first project in the state of Nebraska to receive an Envision award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), among only about 40 projects around the world to achieve a Platinum Verification. This certification confirms a pledge to resilient and equitable infrastructure.

PLANT LIFE

The RiverFront landscape design creates a colorful, richly textured four-seasons oasis by thoughtfully combining familiar garden plants with hardy native selections. Throughout the park’s 72-acres, about 1,500 trees have been planted, over 100,000 different plants rooted and countless yards of specialty engineered soils have been placed to ensure that The RiverFront is a thriving green space, with year-round visual appeal.

A total of 15 tree varieties were hand selected for The RiverFront considering their size, form and structure, transplanted from farms throughout the Omaha metropolitan area. In the heart of the park, visitors can seek shade in a mixed canopy of birch, locust, oak, maple and elm trees with serviceberries and hawthorns providing seasonal accents along the park’s perimeter. Some trees provide charming spring flowers while others produce brilliant fall foliage, lining great lawns and beautifully curated beds.

The RiverFront also features 55 species of shrubs, grasses, perennials and even aquatic plants, specifically arranged in varying combinations to create intentional garden “rooms” around the park. This includes salt-tolerant plants that border streetscapes and roadways, water-loving varietals in the storm water basins and an assortment of flowering selections to complement the blooming Sculpture Garden.

With bustling concerts and a robust event schedule, the vitality of The RiverFront’s spanning lawn space was also an important consideration. A rhizomatous tall fescue is the turfgrass of choice, renowned for its vigorous growth, deep root systems, fine texture and, most importantly, high tolerance for traffic. Special soils were also trucked into The RiverFront during construction to provide a beneficial base for impending plant life, including a fiber additive to encourage strength while resisting compaction. The RiverFront landscape design also aims to revegetate much of the park space, recreating desirable habitats for some of the small wildlife that call the Missouri River home.

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Planting Materials | Shrubs

False Indigo

Amorpha fruticosa

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus americanus

Buttonbush

Cephalantus occidentalis

Sixteen Candles
Summersweet clethra

Clethra alnifolia
'sixteen candles'

Silky Dogwood

Cornus amomum

Yellow Twig Dogwood

Cornus sericea 'flaviramea'

Midwinter Fire Dogwood

Cornus sanguinea 'midwinter fire'

Red-Twig Dogwood

Cornus sericea

Pee Wee Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia 'pee wee'

Ninebark

Physocarpus opufolius

Dwarf Prairie Rose

Rosa arkansana

Smooth Rose

Rosa blanda

Dwarf Arctic Willow

Salix purpurea 'nana'

Snowberry

Symphoricarpos albus

Coralberry

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Emerald Green Arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis 'smarago'

American Cranberrybush

Viburnum opulus var. americanum

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Planting Materials | Perennials

Black Adder Anise Hyssop

Agastache x 'black adder'

Arkansas Blue-Star

Amsonia hubrichtii

Snowdrop Anemone

Anemone sylvestis

Common Chives

Allium schoenoprasum

Swamp Milkweek

Asclepias incarnata

Heartleaf Bergenia

Bergenia cordifolia

Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

Little Joe Joe-Pye Weed

Eupatorium dubium 'little joe'

Common Boneset

Eupatorium perfoliatum

White Swan Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea 'white swan'

Autumn Bride Coral Bells

Heuchera villosa 'autumn bride'

Ox-Eye Sunflower

Helianthus helianthoides

Caesar's Brother Siberian Iris

Iris sibirica 'caesar's brother'

Shreve's Iris

Iris virginica shrevei

Walkers Low Catmint

Nepeta x faassenii 'walkers low'

Stiff Goldenrod

Oligoneuron rigidum

Mountain Mint

Pcynanthemum virginianum

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta

May Night Wood Sage

Salvia x sylvestris 'mainacht'

Pink Delight Meadow Sage

Salvia pratensis 'pink delight'

Giant Bur-Reed

Sparganium eurycarpum

Hummelo Stachys

Stachys officinalis 'hummelo'

Blue Vervain

Verbena hastata

Pure Silver Spiked Speedwell

Veronica incana 'pure silver'

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Planting Materials | Grasses

Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Side Oats Grama

Bouteloua curtipendula

Feather Reed Grass

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'karl foerster'

Common Lake Sedge

Carex lacustris

Common Lake Sedge

Carex lacustris

Rose Sedge

Carex rosea

Elijah Blue Fescue

Festuca glauca 'elijah blue'

Fowl Manna Grass

Glyceria striata

Little Bluestem Grass

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sofstem Bulrush

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Priarie Dropseed

Sporbolus heterolepis

Prairie Cordgrass

Spartina pectinata

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Planting Materials | Vines + Groundcover

Virginia Creeper

Parthenocisus quinquefolia

Turf Saver RTF

Festuca arundiancea

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Planting Materials | Trees

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'autumn brilliance'

Autumn Fantasy Maple

Acer x freemanii 'DTR 102'

Autumn Blaze Freeman Apple

Acer x freemanii 'jeffersred'

Matador Maple

Acer x freemanii 'bailston'

Marmon Freeman Maple

Acer x freemanii 'marmo'

Heritage Birch

Betula nigra 'cully'

Washington Hawthorn

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Street Keeper Honeylocust

Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis 'draves'

Skyline Honeylocust

Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis 'skycole'

Exclamation! London Plane

Platanus x acerifolia 'morton circle'

Swamp White Oak

Quercus bicolor

Heritage Oak

Quercus x macdanielii 'clemons'

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

Accolade Elm

Platanus x acerifolia 'morton circle'

Triumph Elm

Ulmus 'morton' glossy

Along with robust programming provided by numerous local partners, a free concert on Friday night will feature Tony and Emmy Award Winner Kristin Chenoweth (known for her roles in Wicked, On the Twentieth Century, GLEE, The West Wing and Pushing Daises) backed by the Omaha Symphony.
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As a 26-foot-tall sculpture travels thousands of miles to become a permanent installation in Omaha’s Gene Leahy Mall, its creator sends it off with hope that Omahans feel a familiarity in the uniqueness of the piece.
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As a 26-foot-tall sculpture travels thousands of miles to become a permanent installation in Omaha’s Gene Leahy Mall, its creator sends it off with hope that Omahans feel a familiarity in the uniqueness of the piece.
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We now know the artists who will fill the sculpture garden along the north side of the Gene Leahy Mall.
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Gene Leahy Mall construction
The construction at Gene Leahy Mall will close a portion of Douglas Street, according to a press release from the Riverfront Revitalization Project.
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Heartland of America Park Skate Ribbon will feature roller blading in the summer and ice skating in the winter and is expected to open in 2023!
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Farnam St. will be closed near 12th Street for about 2 weeks to allow for delivery and installation of play arch equipment.
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Join the team

The mission to provide an inclusive, culturally enriching space at The RiverFront begins with the team behind-the-scenes. If you enjoy the energy of downtown Omaha, like being outdoors and welcome the opportunity to meet new people, then we want to hear from you! The RiverFront is currently hiring for multiple full – and part-time positions to help make park operations a success.

In conjunction with the City of Omaha and Downtown Riverfront Trust (DRT), the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) manages the maintenance, operations and activation of the three parks within The RiverFront: Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing. MECA is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EEO).

Click on the button below to learn about MECA’s current job openings. This list is frequently updated, so be certain to check back if you do not immediately see the right job for you!