What’s a smart way to improve an already awesome city? People have no shortage of excellent suggestions, but few would dispute the benefits of restoring and reclaiming irreplaceable cultural icons. The Tennessee Brewery project is a perfect example that could set a new tone for apartment living in Memphis.

Why is this $28 million addition and renovation initiative worth watching? Here’s what lies ahead for one of the South End’s most exciting projects.

Getting to know the Tennessee Brewery

Most Memphians instantly recognize the Tennessee Brewery building as an iconic downtown fixture. What few realize is that its history spans back more than a century to 1877.

The Tennessee Brewery is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. With rounded arch designs and a fortress-like appearance, it’s an exciting taste of Old World design in the heart of a modern American city.

One of the coolest aspects of this building isn’t the fact that it was one of the biggest breweries of the late 1800s or that it survived Prohibition — it’s that the edifice stayed true to its style. Even though it filled its last bottles in the mid-1950s, it never gave up its unique aesthetic flair in favor of new Memphis growth trends.

The modern Tennessee Brewery

What has this building been up to since stopping beer production and distribution? For years, the property’s owners debated whether to reclaim the venue or start anew. In 2014, however, the decision was made clear when the edifice popped up on the public’s radar in a new way. Following years of deliberation, it hosted well-attended Tennessee Brewery Untapped events with free live music. These popular pop-up gatherings proved to investors that even one of downtown’s weirdest-looking structures could win hearts and minds.

The Brewery made a perfect community venue in 2014 and 2015.

Reinvigorating the Brewery to the tune of $28 Million

What’s going to happen to this one-time beer mecca? Memphians from all walks of life may soon get the chance to experience the federally recognized historic location personally as it’s transformed into 136 new apartments.

It’s as yet unclear how the Brewery’s new residential aspects might impact the open-air plan. Those who love elements like the attention-grabbing, heavily windowed facade probably don’t have to worry, however. Developers have taken their cues from history and public opinion to preserve as much of the structure’s personality as possible.

The Brewery project’s $28 million price tag may seem hefty, but it won’t break the bank — it’s but a sliver of a massive $15 billion revitalization fund. In short, this has all the hallmarks of a well-planned controlled growth initiative.

Unlike some other development projects, the Tennessee Brewery renovation is in good company. Thanks to the presence of national companies, such as ServiceMaster and AutoZone, the downtown core is experiencing somewhat of a boom. As if the riverfront views weren’t enough of a draw, the upward-moving jobs, fantastic food and music scene make the prospect of residency even sweeter.

The Tennessee Brewery is just one example of what can happen when a proud community rediscovers its roots. Memphis growth trends may yet be evolving, but this project is a sure indicator that they’re headed in the right direction.

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