The Chisca on Main

Uncategorized

Ken West Photography. The renovation of the historic Hotel Chisca is a uniquely transformative project, bridging a major gap in the streetscape between the South Main Historic District, Beale Street, and downtown Memphis. Emphasizing the importance and magnitude of this project includes recognizing the setting, location, history, and culture that are special to both the building and downtown Memphis.

This historic rehabilitation includes the 9-story Hotel Chisca, built in 1913, and an adjacent annex constructed in 1961. Hotel Chisca witnessed rock-n-roll history in 1954 when Elvis Presley’s song, “That’s All Right,” was broadcast from a second-floor radio studio. By the 1990s, however, the building was abandoned and in 2002, the hotel was listed as one of Tennessee’s ten most endangered historic properties. When commissioned to evaluate the feasibility of rehabilitation, the design team found a building in steep decline – there was even a waterfall from the roof into lobby.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Despite the dereliction, the team had one vision: to guide the rehabilitation in such a way that it stitched the gap between the thriving South Main Historic District, Beale Street, and the Downtown core by building a welcoming, pedestrian-friendly streetscape. While initial plans called for demolition of the 1960s-era annex for a surface parking lot, the design team convinced ownership of the building’s value, economically, architecturally, and in telling Chisca’s story. Restoring and improving the annex to better reflect its architectural style thus became a key design feature. Southern facing apartment patios, each with a wood louvered brise soleil, pay homage to the historic checkerboard pattern of the motel’s exterior walkways. The first floor, once the hotel’s main lobby with 17-foot ceilings, houses lofted apartment units, an event space, and two successful restaurants. An elevated amenity space lives on the second floor, transforming the indoor ballroom into an outdoor gathering space with outdoor grilling area, lounge, fire pits, and water feature.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The building offers 161 units ranging from studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as two- and three-bedroom townhomes. The original 1913 building and the 1961 addition are joined by a two-story connector that houses a clubroom, lobby area, coffee bar, leasing office, and 24-hour fitness center with views of South Main Street. An urban courtyard knits the two structures and includes patio seating for one of the restaurants. Leasing is strong and with rent ranging from $800 to $2,700 a month, the apartments are currently 100% occupied.

Project Team

Architect/Designer: Looney Ricks Kiss

Builder: Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC

Developer: Main Street Apartment Partners

Interior Designer: Carkuff Interior Design

Land Planner: Kersey Wike & Associates

Leave a Reply