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VOL. 131 | NO. 174 | Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Obscure Midtown Warehouse to Become Company’s HQ

By Madeline Faber

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The warehouse looks like a foreign object that sprouted in the middle of a Midtown neighborhood. Surrounding the two-story warehouse at 802 Rozelle St. are two-story, single-family homes with fenced yards. The adjacent CSX and Union Pacific railyard is the only indicator that this enclave was once an industrial area. After a $2 million renovation, the dated warehouse will emerge as a highly modern neighborhood asset.

A Midtown warehouse formerly occupied by Delta Wholesale is getting a modern upgrade to house an East Memphis-based investment company’s HQ and public space.

(Daily News/Madeline Faber)

Over the summer, private equity investment company Southern Hunt Club purchased the 40,000-square-foot warehouse for $635,000. This December, the 2-year-old company will move from its East Memphis offices at 1715 Aaron Brenner Drive to the transformed Midtown property. The new Southern Hunt Club corporate headquarters will house office, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and event rentals.

That’s a lot of localized activity for an area more known as a retail and residential market. Midtown isn’t even considered a submarket for industrial activity, and its office use is weak as well. There’s less than 1 million square feet of office space in all of Midtown, which is 4 percent of the overall Memphis MSA.

John Dicken III, a project manager with Southern Hunt Club, said the company didn’t limit itself to any particular area in its relocation search, but the warehouse on the southern edge of Central Gardens stuck out for its renovation potential.

“I think a cool characteristic of this property is the fact that it’s this isolated building that sits off to itself, and when these guys are finished with it, there’s going to be a glass front, an event space, a magnificent fireplace, and it’s going to be a space the neighborhood can use” said Jeremy Turner, senior asset manager with Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors.

What made the building a solid warehouse several decades ago still holds true for Southern Hunt Club’s needs, said Rob Wallace with Zellner Construction. The building has a pop-out skylight that will bring in valuable natural light to what will be the warehouse area.

What is old is new again, according to Dicken, who said the exposed brick and vintage radiator systems make for interesting architecture elements. The building was constructed in 1938 and most recently housed wine and liquor distributorship Delta Wholesale. Delta was bought out in 2012, and the building has sat inactive ever since.

Changing the building’s use from warehousing to manufacturing won’t trigger any zoning amendments, Wallace said. Less than 10 percent of the building’s overall use will be manufacturing, but that area will be on chief display. One of Southern Hunt Club’s companies, Buck Gardner Calls, will assemble its duck calls there.

Southern Hunt Club is following a new trend that sees manufacturing as an authentic design element. Instead of putting the machine equipment and assembly in the back of the property, the work will be walled in completely by glass so that manufacturing activity is front-and-center. The Old Dominick vodka and whiskey distillery under construction on South Front Street and the French Truck Memphis coffee roasting facility in Crosstown Concourse will also have glass-walled manufacturing areas.

“It’s sort of a clash of the industrial and the nice finishes for the hardwood and the modern look of the glass,” Wallace said. Lakeland-based A2H Inc. is the project architect.

Parts of the warehouse that are closest to Rozelle Street will be glassed in and dedicated to public use. One area will be for event rentals and company meetings and the other will be product display, multiuse and entertainment space. The 15,000-square-foot second floor will be converted into office space. Dicken said Southern Hunt Club is also considering co-tenancy with Indigo Agriculture, a startup company that uses plant microbes to strengthen crops against disease.

Southern Hunt Club has 10 employees and is the parent of three companies – Pine Bluff, Ark.-based W&A Manufacturing Co., which designs and manufactures specialized farm equipment; Yocona River Cattle Co. LLC, which breeds cows in Mississippi but is based in Memphis; and the largest company, Buck Gardner Calls, which has about 15 employees.

Dicken said no additional hires are planned as part of the move, but further expansion is possible.

Turner has attended neighborhood meetings on behalf of the project, and said he’s received positive feedback about the upcoming construction. The neighborhood recently boiled over against the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception’s expansion plan, which necessitated demolition of some historic cottages. As Southern Hunt Club will just be a stone’s throw away from the church, Turner said the neighborhood association is sensitive, but excited about the warehouse’s revival.

“You’re taking something that’s old, boarded up, has a fence around it and no activity and you’re going to turn it into a very alive facility,” Turner said. “I think that’s something everybody in the neighborhood can be excited about.”

PROPERTY SALES 57 94 2,713
MORTGAGES 16 37 1,820
BUILDING PERMITS 303 621 6,322
BANKRUPTCIES 138 138 1,115