Buildings at 663 and 673 Cooper Street will be repurposed as a mixed-use development to house headquarters for architecture firm archimania.
Archimania design firm partners Todd Walker and Barry Yoakam plan more development in the years to come, including a possible 12-story mixed-use project Downtown.
The pair, operating as Fillament, LLC, received approval on October 10 from the Downtown Memphis Commission for an 11-year PILOT for a new $2.87 million mixed-use project at 663 and 673 Cooper Street, where they will renovate two existing vacant buildings built in the 1960s into approximately 11,000 square feet of office space, along with new construction of six studio apartments.
Archimania will move its offices from the South Main area of Downtown, where it has operated for the past 22 years.
“We’re not really separating Downtown and Midtown because we see it all as the city core – one is vitally important to the other. We have about 26 people in our office, and half of them live in Midtown and half live downtown, so they do things in both places,” said Walker, who believes some of the six apartments in the new mixed-use space could be rented to archimania’s employees.
The project’s six newly built rental apartments will range from 425 to 590 square feet.
The building at 663 Cooper was formerly the Sheet Metal Workers Union office and the one at 673 Cooper was formerly an insurance office. The interiors of both will be torn out, including all mechanical and electrical systems.
Related: "Shuttered buildings for workers unions tell of changes in local economy"
A trellis with a solar energy canopy will connect the two buildings and should produce more electricity than the buildings will need. The goal is to achieve Net Zero Certification, which would make the project the first of its kind in Memphis funded by the Downtown Memphis Commission.
Walker sees Cooper as an innovation district, with the idea that it can be the next main urban connector of the city. He hopes it will become less strip-oriented.
Construction should get started by late December and be finished by the middle of next year. Grinder Taber & Grinder is the general contractor handling the work.
Filament also redeveloped First Congregational Church in Central Gardens and is in the process of developing three properties into rental units further east along the Greenline. Walker sees more development activity in Filament’s future.
“We own a piece of property at 52 South Front Street. Before the Recession it was proposed as a 12-story condo tower. We inherited the property from a developer after their plans didn’t go through, and we’ve held it since 2009,” said Walker. “We’re waiting until the timing is right. We see it as upscale apartments or upscale condos, and it would have some mixed-use in it.”
He thinks it could be two to three years before that project comes to life.
“I think we’re going to see even more empty nesters Downtown than we have now, and they are really going to be interested in something with a lobby, a concierge, and maybe a bar inside. The idea is it might be something more like you might see in Chelsea in New York City,” said Walker.