Memphis, like most of America, ceased being a walkable city after WWII. Easy credit for returning GIs created a high demand for housing that — because of America's love affair with the automobile and the availability of cheap land and gas — spawned the sprawling suburbs that ring our cities today.
Oil is now dear, and 60 years of suburban expansion may be near an end. Inner-city and downtown values are expected to weather the current economic downturn well. Walkable cities with nearby services are once again desirable. It's this trend that makes places like South Main vibrant.
In 1912, the D. Canale Company built a five-story warehouse at the corner of Huling and South Front. Canale was in the wholesale produce business, and downtown was where the action was. The building was of load-bearing brick, like the older warehouses around it, but it was quite modern for its day in that all of the interior beams, floors, and ceilings were poured-in-place concrete.
Today, the D. Canale warehouse is known as the Paperworks Lofts. It was among the early rehab projects that started the downtown renaissance and has remained a popular residential address. Its use of concrete provided a simple and spare interior that was very attractive to the urban homesteaders looking for edgy, contemporary space.
Sixty-two units were created in the building, and a large deck was added on the roof. Six floors up, the views of downtown and the river are impressive. A shady area, a sunny deck, and two grills make for a mini-community center, where residents can hang out in comfort.
The unit for sale is on the east side of the fourth floor. It has views out over the FedExForum toward the Medical Center. The tall windows and 12-foot ceilings combine to make this studio feel spacious.
The owners have added lots of storage. They converted the only closet into a home office/computer area and then added a 12-foot-wide closet. They also added a shallow storage wall in the bath to complement the existing deep linen cabinet. New lights and ceiling fans brighten up the space.
The kitchen was remodeled in 2005. Natural-finish maple cabinets with extra-tall wall cabinets were installed to make the space lighter and to maximize storage. By replacing a stacked washer and dryer with side-by-side front-loading units, an extra counter was created with three walls of pantry storage above. A built-in, queen-size Murphy bed hidden behind cherry bookcases completes the custom fittings.
Downtown is once again a place where people live and work. FedExForum and Beale Street are within sight. Restaurants and the new University of Memphis Law School are a trolley ride away. For residents of the Paperworks Lofts, instead of being part of the throng jockeying for a parking space near the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, it's a short, three-block walk to get your fresh produce.
408 S. Front, #403
Approximately 700 square feet
Studio with 1 bath; $142,000
FSBO, 603-3377; will co-op