I’ve said before that one of the great pleasures of what I do is witnessing seemingly hopeless buildings saved and resurrected as beautiful re-purposed spaces with a new lease on life. It was three years ago this month when I first toured the White Lily Building as a part of a joint Dewhirst/Knox Heritage event.
While the building seemed packed with architectural and industrial interest, I had a hard time picturing its future. If you weren’t a reader then, or you’ve forgotten the article, you really should take a look at the building three years ago before reading this post. The contrast is startling.
Its past has been documented by Jack Neely and that is included on the current site for White Lily Flats. The primary building was built on the site in 1885 by James Allen Smith. Various flours, pastries and even barrels for shipping were made on the site. Of course, ultimately he and the building found their biggest success with White Lily flour, which was manufactured in the building until 2008.
Three years after that first tour, White Lily Flats has emerged as the latest offering in downtown living, with units available in January. Pushing the edge of downtown a little further north, the building located at 222 N. Central, is located just over the tracks from the Old City. Units are pre-leasing now and three of the forty-six already have signed leases. Chris Cowan-Banker of Dewhirst Properties offered to give me a preview.
The four floor building, which includes a small basement, has been built out to include 19 studio apartments, 21 one bedroom apartments and 6 two-bedroom apartments. Several have lofts and while several patterns have been replicated throughout, there is a wide variety of architectural points of interest in each and the views vary depending on the side of the building on which a unit is located. Some are closer to the train track. Interestingly enough, the first unit to lease is one of the closest in the building to those tracks.
The industrial touches are worth a mention. Massive support beams are found throughout, sometimes running through the middle of kitchens in the new development. The man-lift I photographed in the first article is still there, though with the openings closed for safety. Fire doors are located throughout. You’ll notice a cat-walk in one of the photographs and some industrial signage in another. It’s a conscious decision on the part of Dewhirst Properties to preserve every such element that might possibly be retained as a reminder of the original purpose and use of the building.
The size of the apartments vary from very small – around 500 square feet – to relatively large for the city at about 1300 square feet. Prices vary depending on size, numbers of bedrooms and location in the building. Studio apartments lease for $695 to $995 per month, one bedroom apartments go for $995 per month to $1195 and two bedroom units range from $1350 to $1600.All units include a washer, dryer and a parking space in the lot directly across the street. Two bedroom units get two parking spaces.
Some, as I mentioned, contain lofts but each of them contains storage over the built ceilings, which are built for bearing weight. It’s the same idea as that in the Armature Building. There are stairs for access on each end of the building and an elevator has been added. Floor plans are available for viewing on the website.
Units primarily face west or south, with southern facing units getting a view of the Old City and the rest of the city, depending on the height of the unit. Western facing units have a view of the Southern Train Station and Depot as well as the tracks and sunset. Six units are in the basement and three sit on the top floor of the smaller building on the north side of the plant.
The entire White Lily site actually consists of three building. The smaller corner building I just mentioned will have about 1200 square feet of commercial space on the corner of Central and Depot. We’ve discussed the larger building being renovated. The other building, a large brick structure, sits behind the site of the current project and is owned by Knox Rail Salvage. It would appear to be a perfect candidate for a similar project to that of the rest of the factory.
If you are interested in leasing one of these units, I would strongly suggest you don’t wait to act accordingly. In recent years, there are never more than a handful of apartments available in the city and, while more are on the way, quite sometime will pass before any additional units are available. The last large property to come available downtown was the Medical Arts Building with forty-nine units as opposed to the forty-six in this project. All but one were leased by the first day they were available for move-in.
The most efficient way to set up a tour of available spaces is by calling 865-971-3137. You might ask for Chris or simply tell them you are interested in White Lily Flats. Also, don’t forget that if you are interested in purchasing a downtown home, the “downtown properties” tab at the top of this page will give you a searchable database for everything that is listed for sale in the center city.