101-year-old Downtown building to be renovated as office and AirBnB

Built in 1917 and recently under new ownership, the former National Biscuit Company building at 11 West Huling Avenue in the South Main Arts District is getting a major renovation.

Doug Carpenter, principal of DCA creative communications consulting agency, bought the building last April, and DCA moved in from 431 South Main, where the firm had spent the past eight years, in December.

The 11,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1917 as a warehouse for the National Biscuit Company.

“It’s a fascinating building with an incredible history,” said Carpenter. “You have to be in it to truly appreciate the feel of 100 years of operations and 100 years of integrity of architecture. The design was so clean, so appropriate, so timeless that I bet it feels the same today as the first time it was opened. It just has a little bit of wear on it.”

The main 8,800-square-foot section of the building that now serves as DCA’s headquarters will also be open to the community for public and private events. Renovations will include roof repairs, brickwork and tuck-pointing, window and door repair, new interior walls and other permanent tenant improvements.

A 2,200-square-foot residential space, which had originally served as a carriage house for horse-drawn delivery vehicles, will become an Airbnb, available by mid-summer.

“It’s two bedrooms and two and a half baths, two stories with a rooftop deck with river views, private parking and its own tree-lined courtyard,” explained Carpenter.

The previous owner, photographer Woody Woodliff converted the property into office and residential space in the mid-1980s, and he lived and worked there. His photo cove inside the building will continue to serve as a space for photographers and videographers.

“We won’t change the integrity of the building,” said Carpenter. “We’re just going to add to its natural and organic and original context.”

The architect on the rehab is Austin Magruder, and the general contractor is Octavious Nickson. Construction will begin in March and is anticipated to take approximately two to three months.

Partial funding for the project comes from a $100,000 Downtown Memphis Commission CCDC development loan awarded this week, and DCA also received a separate $45,000 loan for exterior improvements.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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