While most adaptive reuse projects aim to keep some of a building’s history intact, the redevelopment of The Melrose Theater managed to keep the very essence of the 1940s movie scene.
The building had been converted into Scene 3 Productions in the 1980s and the theater itself made into a sound stage, but much of the original elements remained when The Melrose Partners (a development partnership between Nashville, Tenn.–based Fulcher Investment Properties and Franklin, Tenn.–based Parkes Development Group) finally took over in 2012. The only element to go missing was the bowling alley, which had been razed by previous owners during an attempted renovation that fell through during the recession.
On the site of the former bowling alley, The Melrose Partners planned a parking garage and four-story apartment building designed by Humphreys & Partners Architects, which used its copyedited e-Urban design concept in the project.
Another residential building was constructed behind the original structure. The rest of the old theater and shopping center were designated retail spaces, which underwent a majority of the renovations.
Humphreys & Partners opened part of the space to a large, two-story open area with exposed original brick walls and 40-foot folding glass doors, allowing residents to circulate between the amenity and pool areas located at the center of the development.
Inside the original building, the Sinema restaurant preserves the “Old Hollywood” feel, leaving mirrors on the walls and ceiling as they were found during renovation. The existing balcony—with stepped concrete for audience seating on the second floor of the theater—was partially removed, but in its place The Melrose Partners created a cocktail lounge and private dining space. The developers did remove the wooded storefronts of the other retail shops, in order to meet current energy standards.
The final touch was the iconic Melrose sign out front. The original was removed years ago, but the old pedestal remains. The Melrose Partners found old photos of the sign and had a new one—complete with neon lights—put in its place.