In December of 1977, a downtown redevelopment program to convert old warehouses into housing and
commercial units was in its initial phase. One of the first and most ambitious of these projects was the Beale Street Landing, a series of warehouses on Wagner Place south of Beale Street which were to be converted into retail stores. On December 17, fire was reported in the area around 6:00 p.m., and it was discovered at one of the warehouses slated for redevelopment. The first arriving companies found an intense and rapidly spreading fire in a block-long two-story warehouse. Wind-driven flames threatened to ignite similar buildings on the east side of the narrow street. Three alarms were sounded, bringing additional fire companies to battle the raging fire with heavy stream equipment and aerial ladder trucks. The building was entirely destroyed, leaving firemen to shift their efforts toward preserving the other buildings nearby. Ironically, the sprinkler system had been shut down to prevent water pipes from freezing in the unheated building. The fire was later attributed to vagrants living in the empty warehouse, which prompted fire department officials to begin a major sweep of downtown buildings to remove vagrants.