The renovation of the historic Hotel Chisca, located on Main Street, is a uniquely transformative project, bridging a major gap in the urban streetscape between the South Main Historic District, legendary Beale Street, and downtown Memphis. From Chisca’s opening day in 1913, to making rock-n-roll history inside its second-floor radio studio that introduced Elvis to the world in 1954, to its Mid-Century modern addition in 1961, to its conversion into a church headquarters in 197 3, to 25 years of abandonment, and finally to its 2016 rebirth as edgy and chic downtown apartments – it is this inherent multi-layered historic quality that attracts visitors and residents alike. When commissioned in 2011 to evaluate the feasibility of rehabilitation, the design team found a building in steep decline. The basement held three feet of stagnant water causing areas of structural failure. The ballroom featured ponding water that had become a dangerous wetland, complete with water fowl and a 25-foot waterfall tenuously supporting a failing roof structure. The penthouse roof structure had collapsed, and the developer believed the 1961 motor lodge addition should be demolished in favor of a surface parking lot.
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