Real Estate

U-Haul to Convert Historic Kentucky Distillery

James E. Pepper Distillery. Image via Google Street View

Amerco Real Estate, U-Haul’s parent company, has unveiled plans to convert a historic distillery building into a 1,400-unit self storage facility, in Lexington, Ky. The project will be U-Haul’s third Lexington location and the 15th in the state.

Amerco acquired the 197,504-square-foot asset last month. The multi-story building sits on nearly 8 acres at 1170 Manchester St. U-Haul will occupy the building’s upper floors. Renovation plans call for preserving the property’s industrial facade, while retrofitting the interior with climate-control systems for the storage units. The location will also offer truck and trailer sharing, towing equipment as well as moving supplies.

Dubbed the James E. Pepper Distillery, the 1869-built facility stood vacant for nearly 50 years after production ceased in 1958. The building’s ground floor is currently home to bars and dining businesses, operating around the distillery revived in 2017. The self storage company will share the location with the current tenants indefinitely, Christopher Minnich, president of U-Haul’s Louisville arm, said in prepared remarks.

Located less than 3 miles from the University of Kentucky campus, the property is expected to serve the storage needs of Lexington’s large student population. The distillery is nearly 4 miles from another U-Haul facility, at 2425 Merchant St.

Preserving the past

U-Haul is no stranger to historic landmarks conversions. Notable adaptive reuse projects include the 1976-conversion of Tampa’s first cigar factory and the repurposing of the former NaBisCo Building in Detroit, in 2013.

Last month, U-Haul announced three conversion projects, including the repurposing of a 100,984-square-foot former Kmart store in West Columbia, S.C., and the adaptive reuse of an old movie theatre in Rome, Ga. The new locations expanded the company’s portfolio by some 1,200 units.

The appeal of adaptive reuse projects is due to the generally lower costs of retrofitting existing buildings compared to ground-up construction and the location of the properties, which are often along major arteries, as is the case for big-box retailers.

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