Historic S. Main building being rehabbed inside and out

The historic former Russell Hardware store at 316 S. Main is getting a huge facelift to bring the 27,000-square foot building back to life after it had been listed as a blighted property last year by the S. Main Association.

Developer Bill McCrary and his company DDEHC has partnered with the Church of God In Christ to redevelop all of the church’s properties downtown, including several old buildings along S. Main. The first is a building that had been covered in graffiti as recently as last year.

“We reconstructed the interior structure of the building because it was basically falling apart, and then we put a new roof on it,” said McCrary, who has experience rehabbing old historical buildings, churches, college dorms, and medical facilities.

Crews took apart a quarter of the building because it had totally caved in, then they shored everything up and braced it.

“There was a lot of hideous work we had to do in engineering,” said McCrary. “It’s one of the oldest buildings on S. Main, and it was very fragile.”

Phase I of refortifying the building, which is named “The Blake” after Church of God In Christ’s Bishop Charles Blake, took four months.

Now the project moves to Phase 2, which includes the buildout of the interior into four bays of commercial retail space and seven condos averaging 1,200 square feet. Jackson-based RD&M Construction, the largest minority general contractor in West Tennessee, starts work on Phase 2 in July, with completion expected in six to seven months.

“We’re talking with a firm, a grocery store, and a bank already,” said McCrary, who is also a partner with RD&M and project manager over Memphis and Mississippi projects. “There’s been a lot of interest so far.”

Total project costs are estimated near $2 million.

McCrary is also working on the church-owned 275 S. Main and 300-304 S Main buildings, and the next project after those will likely be renovating the church’s publishing house at 2500 Lamar Avenue.

After doing a lot of work in Jackson, McCrary and RD&M have decided to branch out in Memphis.

“We’re going to be very involved with a lot of commercial construction projects, especially in the downtown area,” he said. “We should be opening a new permanent office in Memphis around July.”

The company plans to move into one of the properties that it is currently renovating downtown.

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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.