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Industrial Building Receives Historic Makeover

3 min read

The 21,750-SF building at 1222 Garland St. in downtown Little Rock has a well-established association with storage. A $1 million redevelopment effort to transform it into a 180-unit urban self-storage facility will add to that legacy.

“We want to do it like it’s a new building that looks 100 years old,” said Tracy Tisdale, who entered the ownership picture two months ago in a $500,000 buy. “I hope to be open and running in six months or less.”

The three-story building was developed as a coffin factory circa 1910, and the property was the longtime home of Capital City Casket Co., according to research by Amber Jones, a Little Rock historic preservation tax credit consultant.

For decades, lumber was delivered to the basement level from a railroad spur. The work product was milled and moved by freight elevator to the upper floors for assembly and finishing and on to storage or shipping.

Marked for removal to accommodate more climate-controlled storage, the elevator also served the building’s second use as a furniture warehouse.

A lingering element from those days will be retrained. The “Brandon Furniture Co.” lettering painted on the north side of the building, visible from the Lincoln Avenue Viaduct, will be preserved to keep the old look familiar to passing motorists.

Tisdale, who is exploring listing the property on the National Register of Historic Places, credits Stan Hastings with saving the building during his six-year ownership.

Much of the 2-by-6 tongue-and-groove flooring is in great shape. The same goes for the 6-by-6 beams supporting the roof, the 8-by-8 beams supporting the top floor and the 10-by-10 beams supporting the middle floor.

“We were amazed at the structural integrity of the building,” Tisdale said.

After acquiring the property in June 2013 for $310,000, Hastings stabilized the building and preserved the interior from more damage by redoing the roof.

“My thing was I owned the adjacent property and the building was deteriorating,” Hastings said. “The odds of someone buying it and doing something with it anytime soon were pretty slim.

“That was my goal: to save the building and find a good user for it. [Tisdale] came up with a plan I hadn’t thought of, and I told him ‘If you don’t do it, I will.’”

Each floor of Tisdale’s USA Self Storage project will have its own controlled-access entry, and the project will be overseen by a resident manager.

Tuckpointing brickwork is complete, dozens of loads of garbage and debris are gone and 350 window panes are replaced.

Armed with hammer and chisel, workmen are removing cinder blocks from the interior to uncover steel-framed windows.

Glass salvaged from windows bricked over from the outside will be used in a future expansion.

Tisdale said the neighboring new construction will mimic the existing building and might even be a cookie-cutter project if he excavates to create space for a third floor on the vacant land.

“And I might do that if demand is strong enough,” he said. “I could end up with 400-plus units.”

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