Tobacco Warehouse in downtown Murray to become living and shopping space

A man who grew up in Murray is helping revitalize its downtown. Project Manager Joe Darnall with Black Pearl Properties based out of Murray is building new purpose into an old tobacco warehouse from the 1920s.

It’s down the street from Murray’s downtown square, which experienced several building collapses and a fire in 2014.

"This could be the corner stone of a burgeoning downtown Murray," Darnall said.

The historic building is close to 100 years old and could soon be a place to live, with shops and places to eat. Darnall says it would be space with an urban feel for young professionals unlike anything else in Calloway County.

"Everybody has a tie to this building. The hope was we could find a way to give it a purpose, give it a home, and really make it useful for the next 100 years," Darnall said.

The plan is to make this third floor into 20 to 24 loft apartments, the second floor into office space, and — Darnall hopes — a restaurant or retail business filling the first floor.

"(To be able to), you know, work, live and eat all within a walk. That’s really the goal," Darnall said.

Karen Welch manages New Life Christian Book Store and 5th and Main Coffees down the road from the warehouse. 

"I think it is a great idea. I actually love that building," Welch said.

She says she’s glad someone saw the potential for it.

"I’ve tried to convince my husband for 20 years that we need to buy it and develop it," Welch said. It was never the right time to buy for them, but she says she welcomes Darnall’s development plans.

"We love to have new neighbors. We’re excited all the time, and we can’t wait to see what is going to go on with this building and to work with them," Welch said.

Welch says she thinks this project will bring more nighttime traffic downtown and extend downtown.

"That building being renovated sort of stretches the length of downtown. It adds some activity, a couple of blocks longer. Anytime we can grow the district, I think it’s good," Welch said.

We won’t see it’s impact for a while. Darnall’s got a lot of renovating and fixing ahead of him first.

"It’s a labor of love. You know, we care about this building. We want it to be part of the Murray skyline for the next 100 years," Darnall said.

Darnall said Murray Main Street, Murray State University Small Business Development, Murray Chamber of Commerce and the city of Murray have been very helpful in the process

"The hope is that, with their help and maybe a little luck, we can have something that is going to really be a magnet for downtown Murray," Darnall said.

Darnall says the steel structure in the building is what’s kept it so stable for all these years. The plan is start working on the roof in March or April. Because it’s a historical building, Darnall can apply for state and federal grants to help with some of the costs.

He would like the building to open once lofts and shops are ready inside. Darnall says it could take 24 to 36 months before people can move in.

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