“What the people are within, the buildings express without.” This idea, articulated by one of the world’s most famous architects and the father of modern American architecture–Louis Sullivan–certainly applies in the case of a recent Dow Smith project.
310 West Main, a commanding brick building constructed in 1925, has become a local landmark and is a highly regarded presence in Murfreesboro’s central business district. Now given a new life after extensive renovation, the structure reflects the people within: solid, respected, and committed to the community.
Today, the 310 West Main building is home to one of Murfreesboro’s most celebrated law firms, McCarter/East (McE Law). Owned by Brock East, the firm is well known for its practice, which includes legal services in criminal defense, family law, construction law, business law, personal injury, and other specialties.
Local Landmark with a Long History
Built in the early 1900s and originally constructed as an auto dealership, the space has served many functions over the years. At various times, it operated as a Western Auto store, headquarters for a plumbing contractor, and home to a variety of retail businesses. Over the years, it was often subdivided and renovations were sporadic. Nearly 100 years later, McE Law's attractive offices occupy the space and secure its future as a treasured historic building on Murfreesboro’s main thoroughfare.
As our client Brock East explains, “The building was in rough shape and offered many challenges. The building is located on historic Main Street as well and there were several challenges with the City of Murfreesboro that had to be addressed to get to a finished product. However, we were able to work through (and sometimes around) the various challenges. Ultimately we have a finished product that is first-class and will hopefully be an asset to downtown Murfreesboro.”
Permits, Pitfalls, and Project Challenges
Eminently worth saving whenever possible, old buildings nevertheless present significant challenges. According to Joey Rhyne, Partner and Design-Builder at Dow Smith, this project did present some hurdles.
“All renovations are full of size surprises and so was this one,” notes Rhyne. “A large portion of the roof deck had to be replaced. Demolition was extensive and dangerous. Getting this project through city hall to obtain necessary building permits required extensive meetings and discussions.”
Budgeting was another challenge. “Providing a real world budget before construction could commence took a lot of effort,” Rhyne adds. “The project was very difficult to estimate because of the unusual and pre-existing conditions."
Reputation and Teamwork to the Rescue
Today, the expansive 11,800-square-foot space is a thoroughly renovated building. Improvements, which included both interior rehabilitation and an exterior facelift, are drawing kudos from the public. The work commenced in the winter of 2018 and was completed in early summer 2018.
It was fortunate that the reputations of our client and our own firm inspired the trust of city officials and community members. “The owner, Brock East, has a great reputation in town. That helped a lot,” says Rhyne. The good feelings are mutual.
“It was a great experience,” says East. “It is not often that you find a contractor that comes highly recommended by numerous sources but that was the case with Dow Smith. The team of Joey Rhyne and Gary Grisham was very responsive and helpful throughout the project. They were conscientious of the budget and the significant investment that the project required.”
Budgeting was handled deftly by Rhyne and Dana Mitchell, both seasoned construction estimators. According to Rhyne, excellent relationships with Dow Smith’s subcontractors were also an asset.
“In today’s market getting subcontractors to quote and deliver on time is the biggest challenge,” Rhyne explains. “We overcome this because we are straightforward and honest with our subcontractors. We pay them on time. Because we have been in business for 25 years, our subcontractors trust and respect us. Because our projects are well managed, subcontractors are more profitable on our projects than our competitors thus they are eager to price us for new work.”
Finally, the supervisory skills of Gary Grisham kept the project work safe, productive, and on schedule. The entire Dow Smith organization is pleased that 310 West Main now supports “the people within” McE Law. We are honored to have had the opportunity to help a respected law firm transform a beloved local landmark that will serve the community for many years to come.