From the developer to the architects and the contractor, everyone associated with the restoration of the West End warehouse at 603 Munger Street has treated its revival like a legacy project worth boasting over.
Factory Six03, the latest incarnation for a revered building that has had as many identities as Sherlock Holmes, officially reopened its doors last week. The first time the building opened its doors in 1903, horse-drawn wagons were hauling crates of crackers from the factory and there was no interstate in site.
Some of its former lives included being the home of:
- 1903—Brown Cracker & Candy Co.
- 1926—Sunshine Biscuit Company
- 1960s—a furniture distributor
- 1985—West End Marketplace
- 1991—Planet Hollywood
Vacant since 2006, the iconic 215,000-square-foot, four-story brick warehouse with its trio of rooftop water tanks was bought in 2015 by Granite Properties, a privately held commercial real estate investment, development and management company.
Real estate development in the West End has not been nearly as active as in the neighboring district of Uptown or Victory Park. Then again, tackling historic buildings as beloved as 603 Munger, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, does present unusual challenges.
DPR Construction, the contractor, noted how site logistics were very constrained.
“Prior to construction, the project team spent hours walking the site with subcontractors and assessing the logistics of this unique and technically challenging project,” DPR said.
The $77 million project was over budget, thanks to the sort of unforeseeable setbacks that a century-old structure can spring on contractors. There were voids in load-bearing walls, a collapsed roof, and a water well in the basement, for instance.
GFF and ArchiTexas, the design team, made every effort to restore historically significant features while at the same time repurposing the building into a 21st century office space attractive to millennials.
“Unsympathetic interior modifications have been reversed and corrected, and the iconic water tanks … replaced to match original. Modern additions include new plaza landscaping and primary building entry, an updated interior atrium and skylight, and new lease space and amenity areas created on the roofs of both the four- and seven-story buildings,” GFF said.
The building had staggered heights because it was added onto in three phases from 1903 to 1922. Granite Properties decided to keep that tradition going; two floors with skyline views were added—an eighth floor with tenant lounge, outdoor patio and conference center christened “The Stack,” and a fifth floor with a glass office and terrace.
Other changes included a one-level underground parking garage, a community lobby with a coffee lounge, a ground floor food hall and full bar where restaurant tenants would share the enclosed and patio seating areas.
The West End is growing into an innovation and knowledge district and Granite Properties renovated the building with that in mind.
“Factory Six03 is perfect for companies that want amenity rich workspaces that offer a mix of experience and lifestyle to attract and retain workers,” said Granite’s president and Chief Operating Officer Greg Fuller.
This marriage of new function within old bones was done with care. The original brick was cleaned and restored. Other preserved features include a two-story biscuit brick oven from its Brown Cracker & Candy days, a one-ton scale and the original hardwood floors. Original metal frame windows were restored and old doors were repurposed into doors and beams.
For the finishing touches, Granite threw in a generous splash of public art. These include a mockingbird sculpture by Texas artists Sergio Garcia and Micah Smith, a multi-color installation by End Design, and the Buddy Holly statue from the building’s Planet Hollywood era was preserved.