Reopening a 100-year old warehouse comes with challenges. Building codes have drastically changed, and a warehouse that old needs to be updated before it can be used again.
But local Tripp Nealy’s plan is to take down the historic Jerry Cox Warehouse on the Conway riverfront and construct a new building that meets current standards and preserves the original’s history.
“The building is not even in what could be considered good condition,” Tom Miller, an architect working with Nealy, said.
But once completed, the warehouse will get a new life as restaurant in hopes of revitalizing the Conway riverfront. Nealy owns the warehouse and is spearheading the project to have it rebuilt and reopened.
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Steve Strickland, president of the Earthworks Group, is experienced in developing waterfronts. His organization did civil engineering work for the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk and is a part of the warehouse being rebuilt.
He said Earthworks is bringing what it learned from the MarshWalk and bringing it to Conway. The City of Conway agreed to a contract with his company on Monday to help with the construction. The estimated cost to the city will be about $21,000, but that number could change.
“I think this a bargain we’re getting and staff recommends approval,” Conway city manager Adam Emerick said.
Strickland said in the past when the river flooded, the warehouse would be emptied of its wares and then once the water receded, the items went back in. That practice isn’t really acceptable under current building codes.
That is why the building essentially needs to be rebuilt to meet current codes. To maintain the historic character both inside and out, the original materials will be saved and reused in different ways during construction.
Strickland said the entire building needs to be raised four-feet to make sure it is not at risk for flooding. In addition, the foundation is original and needs to be completely redone.
Miller, of Miller Design Services, made sure the designs for the new warehouse kept the same look of the original. Currently, the warehouse is a long, rectangular building lined with aging, sun washed wood. He said the plan is to make sure the new building mirrors the current one.
The original warehouse was built using primitive techniques, Miller said, and isn’t as wide open as people may imagine a warehouse being. The original builders needed to make sure it was structurally sound. In the current designs there will be support poles like in the original, but they will be mostly decorative.
During prom season or before weddings, the warehouse becomes the backdrop for photo shoots. It even has reviews on wedding planning websites. In addition to taking photos, people have also marked their names on its wall over the years.
Nealy made it a requirement for the project that the photogenic wall be left in tact, keeping the local character that has attracted people to his warehouse.