$3.1 million project bringing loft office space to downtown Columbus
408 12th Street property started as Strickland Motors car dealership back in 1947
Property being transformed from commercial to office space with law firm expected on top floor
Rooftop area to become common access area for tenants with views down 12th Street.
The building at 408 12th Street, shown Friday, is being turned into loft office space and is scheduled to be occupied by October. Waddell Realty is marketing it and River City Contracting is the contractor. A downtown Columbus structure that began its life back in 1947 as an automobile dealership — seemingly ahead of its time — is now being transformed into Class A office space as part of a $3.1 million project.Work is now underway on the loft office building that will carry the same name as its address: 408 12th Street. It will encompass about 26,000 square feet, with 13,000 on each of its two floors, and already is close to being fully occupied by the time it opens this fall.
“We hope to be turning it over Oct. 1,” said Reynolds Bickerstaff, a partner in Columbus real-estate firm Waddell Realty. He has partnered in this specific venture with Columbus businessmen Todd Ammerman and Russ Carreker. “We actually started painting some of the building today, and you’ll see windows going in in about three weeks, hopefully. So it’s really going to start taking shape.” The partners are spending about $2.6 million to get 408 12th Street ready. That doesn’t include the $504,000 paid to purchase the property last September, according to Muscogee County Board of Assessors records. Design work is by Hecht Burdeshaw Architects.
Already, Bickerstaff said, a lease is being drafted for a sole tenant to occupy the entire second floor of the structure. It’s a law firm that he hopes to have a signed agreement with in 30 to 40 days. The bottom floor could have two tenants, he said of negotiations now taking place, one an office user and the other an office furniture supplier. “We hope to have it fully leased before it’s completed,” he said.
The most recent business operating at the site, which is at the corner of 12th Street and Veterans Parkway, was C&B Auto Parts. But in the late 1940s, the location was home to Strickland Motors Inc., a sparkling Lincoln-Mercury dealership apparently operated by a Florida native, Porter M. Strickland, whose life and career eventually brought him to Columbus.
A postcard of the auto dealership supplied by Bickerstaff shows the two-story building with Shell gas pumps outside and an “autotorium,” or garage, used for vehicle maintenance and repairs. The bottom of the postcard reads: “Continuous 24 Hours Day or Night Complete One-Stop Automobile Service.” A passage on Porter Strickland at genealogytrails.com references his company moving “into one of the largest and most modern business structures in the city in 1948 on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Twelfth Street.” Veterans Parkway at one time was known as Fourth Avenue. No date of Strickland Motors’ departure from the site could be found.
The contractor for the current project, River City Contracting, has already razed the former vacant C&B Auto Parts store fronting the property, leaving the shell of the two-story building. Bickerstaff said there are still pieces of architecture inside that indicate an auto dealer was there.“They used to park cars on the roof and they had a paint booth up there,” he said. “If you went in there right now, you’d see there are ramps taking you up to the roof, and it’s got a basement as well. So it’s heavy steel and concrete, and that’s a pretty stable structure.”It’s the roof that will become a unique piece of the office building, with the tenants and their employees working there having access to it and some decent views, Bickerstaff said. A new roof will be required as part of the construction work. “We want to have some type of patio or deck for them to enjoy,” he said. “It’s got some nice views. You can see the water tower and you’ve got a pretty clear view (down 12th Street) … You can’t see the river, obviously, but you can see quite a ways. It’s not obstructed.”
With lease rates starting at $17 per square foot, 408 12th Street will be positioned on the affordability index between the Corporate Center a block away and the higher-end Synovus Centre overlooking the Chattahoochee River, Bickerstaff said. There also is a hodgepodge of office space throughout the downtown area, he said. “CB&T has some office space they’re trying to lease out,” he said. “Every once in a while the Rothschild Building on First Avenue has some space available. John Teeples’ building right across from the post office has some nice office and some residential. But there hasn’t been a project, I think, this size that’s been brought on line in quite a while.” Of course, that doesn’t include the 86,000-square-foot Carmike Cinemas headquarters office complex at the corner of Broadway and 13th Street that could be vacated in a year or two if the movie-theater company’s buyout by AMC Entertainment Holdings is completed before 2016 ends.
A separate $3 million project that involves the relocation of Waddell Realty’s Bradley Park Drive office to three acres of land at 5547 Veterans Parkway in north Columbus continues to move forward on schedule, Bickerstaff said. “We’re still scheduled for October. They dropped the steel off today,” he said Thursday of the company’s new home that will encompass nearly 18,000 square feet of space on two floors, with a portion of that property being made available for lease to tenants connected to real-estate transactions.