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U-Haul to Convert Vacant Rawleigh Building to Self-Storage in Memphis, TN

Phoenix-based U-Haul International Inc. intends to “preserve and convert” a dilapidated former manufacturing plant and warehouse in Memphis, Tenn., into a self-storage and truck-rental facility. The 103-year-old Rawleigh Building at 137-139 W. Illinois Ave. comprises 126,000 square feet on 2 acres. The city’s board of adjustment recently granted a special-use variance to rehabilitate the structure, and U-Haul has submitted its final site plans for approval, according to the source.

Phoenix-based U-Haul International Inc. intends to “preserve and convert” a dilapidated former manufacturing plant and warehouse in Memphis, Tenn., into a self-storage and truck-rental facility. The 103-year-old Rawleigh Building at 137-139 W. Illinois Ave. comprises 126,000 square feet on 2 acres. The city’s board of adjustment recently granted a special-use variance to rehabilitate the structure, and U-Haul has submitted its final site plans for approval, according to the source.

Approximately 54,000 motorists pass by the property every day along a section of Interstate 55, and the area surrounding the property south of downtown is undergoing a resurgence in real estate investment and development, the source reported. In its application, U-Haul indicated it would maintain “architectural compatibility” with the neighborhood and add attractive landscaping.

“I’m very happy to hear their interest is to reuse the building,” June West, executive director of preservation organization Memphis Heritage, told the source. “There have been a lot of people who have contacted us over the years about the building.”

The city council rezoned the property in 2006 to enable a mixed-use development featuring office, residential and retail space, but the project never got off the ground, according to the source.

City and county staff recommended approval for the variance. “The applicant’s commitment to repurpose this building and their experience in successfully rehabilitating similar types of buildings around the country weighs heavily in the staff’s recommendation,” according to a staff analysis report.

The warehouse, which is comprised of several attached buildings, was built in 1912 by the W.T. Rawleigh Co. to manufacture products including cosmetics, insecticides, patent medicines and spices, the source reported. Rawleigh ceased manufacturing on the property in 1958 but continued to use the structure as a warehouse until the late 1970s.

The U-Haul application was submitted by the AMERCO Real Estate Co., a sister company owned by parent organization AMERCO. Established in 1945, U-Haul has more than 44 million square feet of self-storage space at more than 1,200 owned facilities throughout North America.

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