Creative communications consulting firm DCA has submitted plans to the Downtown Memphis Commission for some upgrades and new community-oriented amenities at its South Main headquarters.

DCA founder Doug Carpenter bought the 100-year-old former Nabisco warehouse at 11 W. Huling Ave. last April and relocated the firm there in December.

While DCA is the primary tenant in the 8,500-square-foot space, the firm plans to treat the building as its own brand – styled “Eleven W. Huling” – with community amenities available to the public.

“11 W. Huling allows DCA to open our culture to other people and projects,” Carpenter said. “We’re fortunate to work for and alongside many community-minded, inclusive organizations and initiatives, but we don’t want to stop there.”

The planned changes include a cyclorama photography cove with a catwalk and garage-door access that can be used for community meetings, receptions, photography and videography shoots, and shows for emerging musicians.

Additionally, an attached three-level, 2,200-square-foot private residence on the property will soon open as an Airbnb.

Construction on the project is scheduled to begin by the end of March and wrap up sometime in the second quarter.

Austin Magruder with PMK Architects is listed as the project’s architect, while Octavius Nickson of Nickson General Contractors will handle the construction work.

The inspiration for the designs came from a circa-1912 Nabisco employee handbook with architectural documentation by W.F. Wilmouth that DCA discovered, which called for “a building of such pleasing architectural quality and dignity as would not only be a source of pride to its directors, stockholders and employees, but would, in a measure, express to the public the purpose and ideals of the [Nabisco] Company.”

“We pride ourselves on honoring history and shaping a trajectory that enhances and adds value to the original intent,” Carpenter said.

The residential portion of the property once served as the carriage house for Nabisco-clad horse buggies in the early 1900s.

The Center City Development Corp., a DMC affiliate board, will review Carpenter’s application for a $100,000 development loan and $44,041 exterior improvement grant Wednesday, Feb. 21.

“We love this kind of development,” DMC president and CEO Jennifer Oswalt said. “Converting a renter to an owner in a key neighborhood is definitely a win for Downtown. And this project further elevates that story by creating space that will be both a corporate HQ and community asset. In the future, we hope to see more like it.”

DMC staff, in their report evaluating the 11 W. Huling project, says they are highly supportive for several reasons.

“First, the full renovation of existing buildings is an important goal of the CCDC and the Downtown Memphis Commission,” the report reads in part. “Second, the project is situated in the heart of the South Main neighborhood, an area of continued focus for the DMC and its affiliated boards.”

After its time as a Nabisco warehouse, the building found a second life during World War II as a boat manufacturer for the U.S. Army, and later became a warehouse for United Liquors.

The building then switched owners and functions several times before Carpenter bought it in 2017.

Mollie Baker