Adaptive Reuse: Railroad Square

During one of his first visits to Railroad Park with his son Rollins, Derek Waltchack took note of the area’s changing landscape. He became interested in how the park might alter the surrounding neighborhood. Later, Waltchack received a call about a dilapidated office building that once housed the National Biscuit Company. He and his partners took a leap of faith and decided to redevelop the building that would become Railroad Square.

The renovation was risky and took one year to complete. Local architect Richard Carnaggio worked with Waltchack on the buildout. “We wanted to wake up the old spirits of the building and let them come out and play,” Waltchack said. The team paid homage to the bones of the building, highlighting the original archways, exposed brick and beams as well as the unique flow of the building.

As the renovation continued and potential tenants could visualize the transformed space, leases were signed. Waltchack secured a strong tenant lineup with the Shannon Waltchack, Enrollment Advisors and Retail Strategies signing up as the first occupants. Railroad Square was fully leased before completion. In 2013 as UAB Printing was being moved to make room for the Baron’s new stadium, Waltchack pitched the space and secured them as the anchor tenant – right place, right time.

The space was featured in The New York Times in a piece about Birmingham’s downtown renaissance. RailroadSquare was the Parkside District’s first development project that was spawned by Regions Field and Railroad Park. Billions of dollars have gone into emerging developments as the neighborhood gains momentum. The Parkside District connects the corridor between Railroad Park, Regions Field, Children’s Hospital of Alabama and UAB.

With the strong tenant mix, Shannon Waltchack was able to maximize the building’s value and time came to sell the property. Railroad Square was on the market for approximately 4 weeks before an investor from California snapped it up. Shannon Waltchack moved down the block to the Stockyard, another adaptive redevelopment. The former Shannon Waltchack offices were leased out to an expanding tenant that was already in the building.

After the disposition, Shannon Waltchack retained the property management account at Railroad Square. The investment turned out to be a successful adaptive reuse project which turned a significant profit for our investors who were willing to take a calculated risk.

Railroad Square before the renovation