Crain Transforms an Historic Building into an Entertainment Venue

Crain Transforms an Historic Building into an Entertainment Venue

Crain Construction renovated one of the most high-profile, historic buildings in downtown Nashville, transforming 22,500 square feet into Acme Seed & Feed, a four-story, cocktail, culinary and entertainment space at the foot of the Cumberland River.

Nashville restaurateur Tom Morales and a local investment group tapped Crain Construction to convert the long-vacant downtown Acme Feed building into a new bar/restaurant and music venue. And, the group wanted the project completed in 214 days so the venue would be open during the heavy tourism season.

Tight timelines, original 120-year-old construction and a major music festival staged near the project area were just some of the challenges the construction team encountered while renovating the Acme building to standards that keep it on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We were working under an extremely tight timeframe,” said Gary Doebler, Crain Construction senior project manager. “So, we flooded the project with manpower and worked nights and weekends. It took four months and five days from obtaining a building permit to codes administration issuing a temporary use and occupancy.”

During that time, the Crain Construction team renovated a basement and three floors and added a rooftop terrace. The entire interior of the landmark building was demolished, with the exception of the floors, beams and columns. The brick exterior remained intact, but all doors and windows were replaced. Wood flooring and bead board ceilings were salvaged and reused as bars and tables.

Since the historic building was built on a limestone foundation, concrete and rebar foundations were added and new 60-foot steel columns were lowered through the roof and down three floors to the basement to help provide support for a new rooftop terrace. Fourteen columns were relocated to open up the third floor and provide better sightlines to the performance stage.

Additionally, two stairwells were built, two elevators and new restrooms were added, and new mechanical and electrical systems were installed. Underground water and sewer lines were also relocated.

“You uncover a lot of unknowns in an old building, especially one built in 1890 that has been empty for the last 20 years,” Doebler said. “There was one bathroom, no HVAC and nothing was level so it was hard to rely on control points from floor to floor.”

Due to the 1890s construction and lack of stairwells and elevators in the three-story building, all work was done from ladders and scaffolding, yet there were no reported injuries during the renovation. Additionally, most materials were delivered through an open window on the alley and staged inside the building because of the building’s zero-lot line and abutment to an adjacent building.

The $5 million-plus renovation was well underway in June, when 80,000 people descended on the project area for the four-day CMA Music Festival. Streets around the construction site were closed causing the crew to travel by foot and deliveries were suspended. A month later the street closures and suspended deliveries were repeated for Nashville’s riverfront Fourth of July celebration.

The first floor of the new Acme Feed & Seed opened in 127 days, while the upper floors were still under construction. The project was completed in 148 days. The project team of Crain Construction and Tuck-Hinton Architects worked collaboratively and saved $552,860 on the project through value engineering.

The Acme Farm Supply Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. One year later the business closed its doors after 56 years at that location and 91 years in business. Over the years, the building has been home to Cummins Brothers Grocery, Southern Soda Works, Continental Baking Powder Co., Ford Flour Co., D. Byrd and Co., Bearden Buggy, Sherman Transfer Co., Chadwell Transfer and Storage Co. and Tennessee Wholesale Drug Co.

To see photos of the finished renovation, click here.