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Developers transform SoCo district
by Zack Steen
Apr 19, 2014 | 100 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Less than two years ago, the downtown Corinth warehouse area of Wick and Franklin Streets were a wasteland of crumbling brick walls, shattered windows, peeling paint and fading memories.

Those same streets are now seeing a renaissance of renovations.

The area affectionately nicknamed “SoCo,” because of its south of the main Corinth railroad tracks location, is booming with retail business.

At the helm of the “SoCo” project are two well-known Corinth businessmen with a dream – to turn eyesore buildings into beautiful architecture.

The Alliance’s Community Development Council recently held a business seminar featuring "SoCo" leaders Trey Albright and Stuart Green.

“Those who have driven down Wick Street in the last six months have seen the transformation for themselves,” said Andrea Rose, community director at the Alliance. “It has been amazing seeing the hard work that they have put into that area.”

“SoCo” was just an idea less than four years ago when Albright and Green partnered in a company called Property Solutions. Their goal was to purchase old, dilapidated buildings in the Corinth area and restore the buildings to their glory day.

One of their first projects was the Corinth Machinery building.

“At the time I felt like something had to be done quickly if we wanted to save the building … and I was right, but we were too late,” said Albright. “I had every intention on restoring the Machinery building.”

Straight line winds toppled over what was the oldest standing industrial building in the state before Property Solutions could begin renovations.

“I feel like Wick Street is my redemption to Corinth. My way of saying, ‘I’m sorry’,” Albright added. “I didn’t act fast enough and I lost the building I loved.”

Redemption comes tenfold.

In October 2012, Albright teamed with Green to purchase the abandoned strip of buildings on Wick Street from Steven Simmons.

A few weeks later, the duo purchased the freestanding building facing Taylor Street across from the Long Branch, which will soon become a bakery. Then they purchased the yellow building, once home to a general store, on the north side of Wick Street. Lastly, the two brought the old King Norman warehouse building on Franklin Street.

“We knew we wanted to clean up the block by renovating each building,” Albright said. “We had a vision of what we wanted it to look like.”

Albright and his wife, Laura, traveled to downtown areas all over the mid-south looking for ideas.

“We wanted to see what other places had done,” he said. “We went to Huntsville, Ala., and Franklin, Tenn., just to name a few. Both of these towns gave us some great ideas.”

When work began on “SoCo”, Albright couldn’t help but research the history on the buildings.

“The first building we started on, where Shirley Dawgs and Conner Slice are now located, was an old livery stable back in the day,” Albright said. “Horses would enter the livery on the first floor facing Franklin Street, walk up a ramp and exit on Wick Street when work was completed.”

The ramp is still visible in the Conner Slice dining room.

“Any time we saw an opportunity to save something that could remind us of yesteryear, we tried very hard to save it,” the businessman said. “It’s those little things that will go a long way for ‘SoCo’.”

By the time the block was finished, the team had already rented all but one building. Tenants included Lipchic Boutique, who relocated from a flood prone Fillmore Street building, Tee Rage Photography, Rossi’s RelaxStation Day Spa, and Exceeding Expectations.

A breezeway was built to connect the front of Wick Street to a new deck and parking lot area on the back of Wick Street beside Cindy’s Place restaurant.

A freshly finished storefront is still available between Lipchic and the breezeway.

When the duo purchased the King Norman building, they didn’t quite understand the scope of repairs needed.

“It was our hardest remodel, but it was well worth it,” said Albright. “Prior to the redo, the brick walls were in piles on the floor, grass was growing and graffiti was on everything.”

Workers added a new roof, concrete floors and brick walls and installed all new electrical and plumbing. Two full size bathrooms were added, along with a bar/kitchen area complete with ice maker and fridge.

Albright dubbed the warehouse “The Venue” and soon it was hosting musical concerts, weddings, receptions, parties and most recently, the Alcorn Central and Kossuth High School proms.

The building includes a courtyard and stage area and can hold up to 250 people

Inside The Venue is a antiques and rental business called The Green Door Warehouse run by Green’s wife, Nan. The Green Door also acts as the booking agent for The Venue.

Albright said it’s rewarding seeing other business owners in the neighborhood following their lead.

“I think all this work has encouraged others downtown to work on their buildings,” said Albright. “It is very beneficiary to all of Corinth that we work together to make downtown as beautiful as possible.”

Just this week, Property Solutions sold the land on the corner of Wick and Franlin Streets to the city of Corinth. The city is set to team up with The Pierce Foundation to create a green space area.

The project has become a passion for Albright and Green.

“This has been our labor of love,” said Albright. “It has been a long progress, but we love Corinth and we love being able to enhance the charm of downtown. I think we are going in the right direction.”

(The two businessmen will tell their story and show a presentation of before and after images at the second “SoCo” District Lunch Business Seminar scheduled for April 30 at noon. The seminar will take place at Corner Slice Pizza located at 112 North Franklin Street in the “SoCo” District. Lunch will be provided. The seminar is free to the public and space is limited. R.S.V.P. to Andrea Rose at The Alliance by contacting 662-287-5269 or email andrea@corinthalliance.com.)
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