Repurposing of Old Dominick Distillery poses challenges

 While construction is slated to wrap up in next few weeks on the renovation of D. Canale & Co.’s Old Dominick Distillery, the whiskey is ahead of schedule. The distillery announced last week that it has already started aging its first barrels of whiskey at the facility. Getting to this point with the more than $10 million restoration project was not without its unanticipated challenges.
 
The biggest hurdle of repurposing of the early 1900s-era Memphis Machine Works and Supply building on Front Street, which years ago had been used for making industrial-grade woodworking tools, involved putting in massive grain storage silos in the back of the building.
 
“When we dug up the old concrete there, the old railroad track that ran down Wagner was still in place,” said Hans Bauer, project manager for Archer Custom Builders, the general contractor. “So we had to pull out all the old railroad ties. Once we did that we had geotechnical engineers come in, and they told us the soil was too wet to support a 100,000-pound grain silo.”
 
The solution was to drill 32 helical piers measuring roughly 30 to 40 feet each down beneath each leg of each silo to support the weight.
 
The distillery is actually three buildings, all built at different times, that are connected into one structure. The  55,000-square-foot interior has all new electrical consisting of miles of conduit. The far north building holds the fermentation tanks as well as a future restaurant.
 
“We demoed out a lot of old concrete and replaced with it with new,” said Bauer. “And we had to cut holes for the fermentation tanks to come through the floor.”
 
For the enthusiasts lounge/VIP tasting area on the second floor of the southernmost building, a new slab was poured over the existing slab to raise the floor, and a glass wall leads out onto a newly created roof terrace that overlooks the city.
 
All of the glass of the old warehouse windows, which are the original to the building, had to be replaced, and now complements a good amount of new glass and millwork throughout the facility.
 
The outside was given some street appeal with fresh paint for the entire building, new storefront windows and front door as well as brick work. A Corten rusting grid wall system was installed inside the entrance to enhance the overall industrial vibe.

D. Canale & Co.’s Old Dominick Distillery will feature the vodka and whiskey distillery, a mill works for whole grains, a bottling operation and warehouse space for barreling whiskies. The facility will also feature two tasting rooms, host tours, 10,000 square feet of event space and 5,000 square feet of restaurant space.
 
LRK created the project’s design; HNA Engineering handled mechanical, electrical and plumbing needs; CSA were the structural engineers, and Geotech Inc. was brought in for geotechnical advice on the grain silos. Riverfront Development Corp. is the developer.
 
A grand opening to the public is likely in the fall.

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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