Trey Albright and Stuart Green recently acquired the buildings in the 100 block of Wick Street between Taylor and Franklin, along with several others in the area, with plans to renovate them for rent.
“We want it to be as nice as it can be and be affordable for people,” said Albright. “I want to have a nice space that people can afford to bring traffic in for more business for a bigger tax base.”
Albright and Green have collaborated on other downtown properties and had their eyes on Wick Street, with its declining buildings, for some time.
“I think it’s a good extension of downtown,” said Albright. “I think this can be a good venue for restaurants or retail space or whatever.”
The block offers ample parking space and is just west of the heavy traffic flow of Cass Street.
The city removed the area from the Corinth Downtown Historic District a couple of years ago with hope of prompting some development.
“That area was and still is dominated by buildings mostly in ruin and beyond reasonable possibility of restoration,” said Robert Gray, chairman of the Corinth Preservation Commission. “The buildings in that area have little individual architectural quality, but the district as a whole definitely has a historic quality.”
Albright and Green have also acquired the two-story building across the street at Wick and Taylor and the old King-Norman Wholesale building on the block to the immediate northwest. They hope to put a green space in the vacant spot on the corner adjacent to the King-Norman building, but the first phase of their plans is to renovate the 100 block of Wick.
Securing the two-story building across the street from the elements is also at the top of the plans. Albright is considering using the spiral staircase from the Corinth Machinery Building in this spacious structure.
Two tenants have already committed to open businesses in the block of 100 Wick, but they are not yet being announced.
Altogether, the various buildings have 50,000 to 60,000 square feet of space that could become home to businesses.
The Wick Street warehouse buildings are perhaps larger than they appear at a glance, extending 100 feet deep.
“That’s a big place, 25 by 100, if somebody is selling blue jeans or T-shirts,” said Albright. “You’re talking about a restaurant seating 200 or 300 people.”
In the past five weeks, the buildings in the 100 block have been gutted to the brick walls. Most of the roofs will be replaced immediately.
“It’s already a substantial investment, and we haven’t driven nail number one,” he said.
The largest one at the corner of Wick and Franklin will be the first renovated. With a recessed floor, it will have two levels. They plan to go one-by-one down the block, unless a tenant is interested in a particular slot farther down.
The buildings date to the very early 1900s and were more oriented to agriculture than the later warehouse use, according to the Simmons family, who previously owned the properties. The two at the corner of Wick and Franklin were built first, with the rest gradually added to fill the block. The floor in the first building, which was used as a livery stable, had to be torn out, revealing an inclined floor underneath with staggered beams to help horses grip as they walked up and out the front of the building.
Mule barns and a blacksmith shop were located nearby. Some will recall Norris Hardware occupied space in the block for some time.
Albright said the remaining brick walls are solid, and they will get a power wash with ground walnut to refresh their look. The only wall lost was the back corner of the large first space.
Albright and Green have visited a number of other downtowns looking for ideas of “which facades we like, what kind of roofs we liked, and how to tie all of these together to use old with the new, to keep the vernaculars right,” he said.
Old lumber from the buildings is being saved where possible, and the plan is to use wood for the windows and a barn door look for the entries.
In the end, Albright believes it will be a plus for the city.
“Stewart and I appreciate history, and we are trying to preserve that,” he said. “We want to make this something that the town can be proud of.”