Historic William C. Ellis & Sons Building in Demolition Crosshairs


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  • Courtesy of the Save the William C. Ellis & Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop Facebook page.

As part of a $3.5 million property purchase, 275 S. Front was the first parcel to be demolished by the Carlile Corp. Now, a group of citizens with preservation concerns are rallying to save the 19th century William C. Ellis & Sons Iron Works Inc building, the next parcel slated for demolition to make way for One Beale high rise.

During a public meeting with officials from the historic preservationist group Memphis Heritage, a central theme emerged. According to Memphis Heritage, Carlile has no submitted formal redevelopment plans to the city of Memphis. The absence of such plans has produced multiple question from skeptical Memphians and history buffs

"I find it hard to believe that you are going to pay $3.5 million for a building you have no plans for," said June West, executive director of Memphis Heritage, who added that she's surprised the city would issue demolition permits without a full understanding of what would go up in place of the demolished property.

Though Carlile was invited to attend the public meeting, they declined to do so. In their absence, various ideas were tossed around the crowd of thirty gathered.

Could the city council be lobbied to pass a resolution that bans demolition of buildings in historic districts within 12 months of a redevelopment plan being presented?

Would South Front have to be widened for traffic flow? If so, can those permits be issued without redevelopment details?

For now, demolition is still scheduled through Biggs General Contracting Co., but those in favor of preserving at least some of the building, if not all, will be moving to investigate every possible angle in hopes of temporarily halting the demolition.

"I find it hard to believe that you're going to pay $3.5 million dollars for a building that you have no plan for," said West, who added, "I'm not saying that every building needs to be saved, but good planning is good planning."

This story will be updated with additional details.

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