Universal Life Building

Client Success Story: Historic Building in Memphis Brought Back to Life

July 14, 2021

Local architects Juan Self and Jimmie Tucker saw potential in The Universal Life Insurance Building in Memphis, Tennessee. Built in 1949, it was designed by influential African American architects Moses and Calvin McKissack. The new architects were able to purchase the building and bring to life a vision that was more than a decade in the making.

The Challenge

The project utilized a master lease structure with many layers of financing, including grants, loans, and bonds. The complicated organizational structure and due diligence required of each of the programs proved to be a challenge.

The Solution 

MarksNelson’s tax credit team worked with owners and investors to identify the needs of the project.  Part of the process was to build a projection that detailed the project’s sources and uses, demonstrated the benefits of the tax credit transaction, and modeled the operating cash flow.

During construction, the cost certification team collaborated with management to report on the actual costs of the project.  A complete and accurate reporting of project costs was essential to maximizing the tax credit amount and meeting the required reporting to investors. 

The tax team continues to provide ongoing compliance support and is prepared to guide management through any future needs that may occur as part of the tax credit structure, including any exit strategies.


Although the work of MarksNelson was largely focused on the numbers of the deal by way of the projections, cost certification, and tax returns, it was a true joy to watch the transformation of the 1949 building.  The project was also chosen as one of three winners of the 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards. Today, the building supports entrepreneurship and business innovation, among other small businesses.  The team is proud to be able to provide a comprehensive approach and support to the project from the beginning of the tax credit transaction through today. 

MarksNelson has a passion for helping clients succeed with their historic tax credit projects. Do you have a historic project you need help with? Reach out today. 


Kari leads a team of auditors within the tax credit practice of MarksNelson. She is a key member of the firm’s real estate industry niche and specializes in cost certifications and audits for historic and low-income housing tax credits, HUD projects, and commercial real estate developments.... >>> READ MORE

Woman rejoices at cliff


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