Southeastern Glass: a Welcome Addition

The bold renovation of the Southeastern Glass building features contemporary architecture

As much as opponents try to promote the false dichotomy, preservation debates rarely boil down to a choice between demolition and "don't do a thing." In reality, it's typically preservation opponents who take the absolutist approach, preferring to scrape the site clean and start from scratch. (Or not. How's that new Home Federal headquarters coming?) Preservation proponents, with their emphasis on adaptive reuse, take a more pragmatic approach, readily embracing the idea that buildings evolve.

Opposing arguments to the contrary, preservationists aren't particularly against new construction. In fact, most of the privately financed new construction in the center-city has occurred in its historic neighborhoods. Even the most cursory glance around Fourth and Gill or Old North will reveal, in addition to restored homes, lots of new additions or even all-new houses built to blend in with their neighbors. Rather than kill off investment and construction, preservation has a proven track record of promoting it.

Downtown itself has seen far more investment in renovation than new construction over the last decade. Additions are relatively rare, but that has more to do with a lack of land to expand than anything else, so that when additions do occur, they often require a certain amount of ingenuity (consider, for instance, the rear addition to the Tennessee Theater, cantilevered over State Street).

Then there's the Southeastern Glass building, whose renovation resulted in one of the more recent additions in downtown's roster. Developer Conversion Properties and Sanders Pace Architecture have taken one of downtown's most distinctive buildings and made it more so. And the fact that they did it by embracing bold contemporary architecture only underscores the achievement.

Southeastern's site helped. A freestanding structure, ironically on downtown's northwest edge, the lot allowed the architects to go up and over with a combo rear addition and rooftop penthouse. They also took clever advantage of the structure's flatiron shape and configured each condo as a corner unit, maximizing both light and views. Twelve of the 15 units also feature private outdoor space.

Inside, many units have dedicated home office space. Additionally, all the units feature historic features like exposed brick and concrete, original steel-framed windows refurbished with insulated glazing, and ceilings up to 11 feet high. New features include bamboo flooring throughout and contemporary style kitchens with Energy Star-rated stainless appliances, custom wood cabinetry, and granite countertops with subway tile backsplashes. There's also dedicated parking (one space per unit) with gated access. m

Southeastern Glass

555 W. Jackson

1 bdrm/1 bath to 2 bdrm/2 bath

814 sq ft. to 1,777 sq. ft

$154,500 to $398,500

Contact: Joe Petre

Conversion Properties: