VOL. 117 | NO. 121 | Monday, June 23, 2003
Great old building keeps firm Downtown
Great old building keeps firm Downtown
By LANCE ALLAN
The Daily News
The new Downtown elementary school, opening in August, might
fill a public school void in the area, but it caused a problem for one Memphis
Nathan Evans Taylor Coleman Foster in business since 1911,
when it began as Coleman Foster owned a 10,000-square-foot building at Court
Avenue and Fourth Street, ground zero for the new school.
We had 90 days to get out, said partner James Evans,
laughing about the time crunch the firm faced in finding a new location to
So instead of buying, the firm leased an 8,600-square-foot
space in Pontotoc Place at 17 W. Pontotoc Ave., overlooking the river in the
South Main district. But after five years, the firm principals are on their way
to a new Downtown locale with the purchase of a 12,500-square-foot building in
the Pinch District.
The building, at 345-347 N. Main St., was purchased for
$475,000. A separate limited liability corporation was established for the
renovation work that originally was budgeted at $200,000.
We want to own our own place and stay Downtown, Evans
said. Its a great old building.
Tucker Beck of Crye-Leike Commercial represented the buyer
in the purchase. Ambassador Construction Co. of DeSoto County, Miss., is the
contractor for the renovation project.
The move comes on the heels of another business development
in the mostly entertainment district. It was announced in February that the
former home of Jakes Place restaurant at 356 N. Main will be renovated into
offices. Pro Sales Inc., a sales firm representing local minority businesses
with offices currently at 2600 Poplar Ave., will use the office.
With the relocation of two businesses to the Pinch, new
restaurants eventually could follow.
The more people you get on the streets, I think youll find
that restaurants will find the area more attractive, said Myron Hughes, Center
City Commission vice president of planning and development, at a February
meeting. Once theres critical mass, other things will follow.
The Center City Development Corp. provided a loan for the
refurbishment of Jakes Place, something the architectural firm is seeking as
well. The firm will complete $60,000 of work on the brick exterior, which has
caused the renovation budget to balloon to $300,000, Evans said. The loan would
cover that work.
The building, dating from the 1880s, is in good shape, but
needs some improvements. Because of past flooding of the Gayoso Bayou, the
floors originally were constructed with a 16-inch slope from front to back to
allow for drainage.
When renovation work is complete, the slope will be gone and
the building will be wheelchair accessible. Several bricked-over windows will
Completion date for the renovation has not been set, but the
firms lease at Pontotoc Place expires Sept. 30, Evans said, meaning a move
will take place sometime prior.
When the building originally opened, it housed a butcher and
saloon, Evans said. The owners lived on the second floor.
Before the firm bought the building, it was used as a
There are two apartments on the second floor, one currently
occupied. Evans said the firm eventually might expand into the second floor,
but for now, he expects the firm will rent out the second apartment when the
renovation work is completed.
The new building will provide nearly 4,000 additional square
feet compared to the Pontotoc Place office, giving the 20-employee firm
much-needed storage space.
Nathan Evans Taylor Coleman Foster soon will become Evans
Taylor Foster Childress due to the retirements of Tom Nathan and Charles
Coleman. Mike Childress has joined as a new principal.
The firm has a history intertwined with several Memphis
buildings, as it designed the state and county office buildings, several
buildings on the University of Tennessee at Memphis campus and Saint Francis
Hospital, and helped design the Criminal Justice Center and Regional Medical
Center at Memphis.