When searching for his next renovation project, Wesley Crunkleton, Principal at Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate, ended up finding a space that surprised him.
“When I was initially told about this property being a potential opportunity, I had a hard time identifying which property they were referring to,” he said. “When I walked over to Jefferson Street to check it out, I remember saying to myself that I didn’t think I’d ever realized the building was there. However, once I started walking through the space I saw a ton of potential.”
After finishing The Garage at Clinton Row, the 11,000 square foot mid-block building would soon become the site of Wesley’s next downtown real estate redevelopment.
During the past few months, anyone walking downtown near Jefferson Street noticed the changes taking place at one of the block’s historic buildings. Although hidden behind a construction tent at times, the property was quickly becoming one of the city’s next modern office spaces.
“We had been looking at other opportunities for renovations downtown that didn’t work out at the time,” said Wesley. “The contractor I used for The Garage at Clinton Row put me in touch with the owners of 104 Jefferson and that’s when the project really took off.”
After a few months of deliberation and patience from all parties involved, everyone agreed to terms of the building’s purchase. A schedule of events was quickly put together.
“Our first order of business, after we had devised a plan for the property, was to make sure that the City of Huntsville Inspection and Fire Department were on board, as well,” he said.
“These older properties can be tricky because they were built during a period of time that either did not involve the inspection process or the process was vastly different from today. Both the Inspection and Fire Department can really be helpful on the front end with a project like this, and I would always recommend that anyone planning to undertake a downtown renovation get them involved early in the process.”
(Below are images of the property BEFORE the renovation.)
From January to July of this year, the look and feel of the property changed dramatically.
The Design: Modern Industrial
Although the building’s construction was completed in 1915, its interior design was frozen in time somewhere between the late 80s and early 90s.
“When I came across the space, everything was very retro,” explained Wesley. “Funky shapes, bold reds, and other dated elements were interspersed throughout the property. We knew there needed to be a significant amount of work done to uncover its true potential.”
104 Jefferson’s facelift was not a simple undertaking. Work began to expose brick walls and incorporate sleek glass, clean lines, and aesthetically pleasing paint colors. In fact, only two colors were used throughout the final product. The wooden doors you see today are made from the wooden rafters taken out of the second-floor ceiling.
“The goal was to make everything clean as possible,” he said. “We ended up using a dark tile with a dark grout that gives the lobby a slate or concrete finish look. The seamless glass entry doors in each suite are a hint to the modern, while the exposed brick gives it the industrial feel.”
(Here are images of 104 Jefferson AFTER the renovation.)
The character of the property began to take shape with the addition of exposed sprinkler pipes and artistic lighting fixtures. But its crowning jewel was something that received much attention from the community—a hidden mural that made its debut during the fourth day of chipping away at the lobby’s plaster.
The Discovery: A Message From The Past
“Without a doubt, you need to remove the plaster. Take it off.”
This was the advice given to Wesley on a business trip to Chattanooga while visiting a contractor acquaintance who had tackled similar projects. Not wanting to begin a project that he couldn’t execute 100 percent, the encouragement was the push he needed to make the final design decision to uncover the wall beneath the old plaster.
“I already knew it was something that I wanted to do—expose the brick,” said Wesley. “And sure enough, we started chipping away and found yellows, greens, and blues. The old sign started to show itself. It was a welcomed surprise.”
After doing research, Wesley determined that the sign was for Bull Durham Tobacco. Co. and had been hidden for decades.
“It’s the same tobacco company whose factory was operational in the mid-1900s but burned down in North Carolina where the company was based,” he said. “We thought the connection to the past would be a wonderful feature to the building that would add personality and interest its visitors.”
The Modern Office Space: Where Is It Headed?
It’s impossible to ignore the changes in the look, feel, and function of 104 Jefferson. In an effort to keep pace with the transformations in today’s office settings, the space was built to encourage collaboration, creative team building, and successful project execution.
“Simply put, offices are headed to less of an office feel,” clarified Wesley. “Offices are becoming a place that you not only work but hang out, as well. The days of squeezing into a tiny conference room and exhausting yourself over a whiteboard are gone. Now, business might be done over a game of pool in the back lounge where people brainstorm.”
The Environment: Downtown Huntsville
Businesses are flocking to the downtown area in order to take advantage of the off-site meeting spaces, like coffee shops and bars, in order to recruit new hires and take a mental break from the daily grind.
“It really is more about your office dynamic rather than what downtown provides as an office setting,” he said. “For instance, Prime Lending moved its business from South Parkway. The ability to walk out the door and go have a drink or shop at The Garage at Clinton Row helps them utilize downtown as a built-in recruiting tool.”
The Reward: A Completed Project
“One of the most gratifying parts of any project is when people are pleased with what you’ve done to their property,” beamed Wesley. “The seller of the site found me after the renovation was complete and said they were very happy with the way it turned out. It’s a great feeling, and we are very thankful at how patient and supportive they have been throughout the process. It was truly a team effort. Everyone involved has been incredible.”
Next time you are exploring Downtown Huntsville, take a moment to stop and look at one of Huntsville’s newest office spaces that combines the present with the past. It very well could be the perfect spot for your business.
To learn more about 104 Jefferson, click here.
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CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP