Serendipity in the Rubble: Our New Passion for Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
When Shannon Waltchack caught the downtown fever . . . we were IN, hooked. In the rubble of a run-down, century-old warehouse, we realized we’d stumbled upon a whole new kind of real estate treasure. We had discovered a new passion—historic preservation—and we were suddenly part of something big. By adapting existing buildings or strategic sites for new purposes, we could reclaim historic value in ways that fit how people live and work today.
It was a move that took us all by surprise. A serendipity, we’d say now. As the firm was thriving in the commercial expansion of the city’s suburbs, downtown real estate was no more than a nostalgic ideal.
“One of my favorite childhood memories was visiting my dad in his office downtown,” Len Shannon, III CCIM, recounts. “The buildings were majestic and commanding, and all the authoritative players in the city were located within a six-block radius of each other. The city center was alive and filled with vibrancy.”
But those days were over . . . so he thought.
Derek Waltchack was also among the Birmingham majority with little interest in the city’s historic center. Until a trip with his children to the new Railroad Park changed his perspective: Seeing the vibrancy of this re-discovered area, a nearby investment opportunity he’d turned down a few months before started to take on new possibilities.
In April 2011, a partnership headed by Shannon Waltchack principals acquired the former National Biscuit Company building, a 1914 structure in the Railroad Park district. Through creative redevelopment and adaptive reuse, the award-winning architectural renovation, Railroad Square, is now home base for Shannon Waltchack.
With a fresh zeal for downtown, Shannon Waltchack made its next big move. We’re now leading a new charge just down the street, where we’ll be moving our corporate headquarters: The Stockyard @ Railroad Park. Like Railroad Square, adaptive reuse and creative redevelopment will transform these historic warehouses into contemporary spaces for people to work and live, crowned with a rooftop deck overlooking the new Regions Field baseball park.
“There’s a sizzling electric energy in our downtown area,” Shannon says. “Our firm is proud to be a part of this rebirth.”
“The momentum downtown is palpable,” Waltchack affirms.
And Shannon Waltchack’s momentum is obvious, too. With downtown’s estimated 1.6 million square feet of largely vacant buildings constructed before World War II, the firm has been able to take advantage of incentives like state and federal historical tax credits and low-interest loans. In this prime time for real estate development, Shannon Waltchack principals have now acquired 9 historic properties throughout the city. Additionally, we’ve taken on projects for adaptive reuse or maintaining modern facilities in historic areas, giving us the opportunity to blend the new with the old in ways that enhance the character of the entire region.
For a glimpse of Shannon Waltchack’s part in the re-birth of the Magic City’s center, follow our blog
series over the next few weeks as we take you inside some of Birmingham’s most intriguing renovations.
About Shannon Waltchack
A full service commercial real estate firm, Shannon Waltchack manages, brokers, develops, and acquires property across the Southeast. Since its inception in 2005, Shannon Waltchack has closed more than $1 billion in real estate deals and manages a diverse portfolio that includes more than 70 properties spanning five states and over 2.3mm square feet.