By Angela Cutrer
Since he built his first drafting table at the age of 15, Corey Alger has always loved design and drawing. Now facing 60 (July is fast approaching), what would he say about his legacy?
“As I surpass my 25th anniversary, a few things come to mind: How fortunate I have been all of my life and how grateful I am to the literally hundreds of clients I have worked with,” he said. “And how proud I am of the work.”
Back in 1995, Tom Howorth and Alger were working together at Howorth’s office in Jackson when the former decided to move home to Oxford and invited the latter to join him.
Flash forward three years and Alger, looking for a greater ownership stake, gathered round his friends and family to develop a business plan. That led to Alger eventually opening an office in March 1998 on the square.
So began Alger Design Studio P.A.’s reputation as a full-service architectural design firm specializing in commercial and residential property planning and development.
After several moves within the city, what is it about Oxford that keeps Alger in the area? “An amazing component of working in Oxford is the number of smart and generous people who have a commitment to creating a better quality of life through the built environment,” he said. “My involvement with my very good friend and client, Mike Overstreet, was a catalyst in my business’ evolution.”
Alger’s first commercial project was for Larry McAlexander in building the Etheridge Professional Building that houses the United States Attorneys office building. “That project gave me an initial opportunity to show my capabilities,” Alger said.
“When Mr. Overstreet and I completed the design and construction of Oxford Square North, I moved from the square into a larger office at the rear of that development, where I remained for 10 years or so. After Mr. Overstreet and I completed the design and construction of The Ice House development, we both decided to move our offices there and it remains where I am located today.”
It is then when Alger sadly mentions that this past March 1 made five years since Mike Overstreet passed away.
Alger’s one employee, Cliff Haskins, has been with Alger for more than 20 years “and is a critical and integral part of the business,” Alger said of their successes. “I had extensive experience working in the commercial design field and was fortunate to cultivate relationships with several developers in the area. My focus was initially – and continues to be – on private property development, both commercial and residential.”
Now celebrating his 25th anniversary, Alger said he’s been blessed. “I feel very fortunate to have gone to a very good architecture school at Mississippi State University, and after being mentored by a group of talented designers and technicians, our focus has always been on solving design problems, whether it be residential or commercial property development. We have been fortunate to have a wide variety of both.”
Alger said he has never owned an alarm clock to wake up and go to work. “Doing the work has always created the energy and drive,” he said. “And several times over the years, it’s even been seven days a week.”
Alger adds that he is reticent to offer advice to anyone on anything, “much less business. However, as I have said to several younger people looking to find their way, find your passion and focus on creating an environment for it to flourish in. Think empirically. (I have never been a theorist.)”
In the past five years or so, Alger has transitioned his focus on designing buildings for himself and his partners. “I’m a very good client!” he said, laughing. From Blue Mountain Beach on 30A in Florida to their latest venture, a new office park at Grand Oaks, Alger and his partners continue the work of creating beauty, functionality and lasting purpose in the buildings they design and construct.
“I have no intention of ever retiring, as I am having too much fun,” Alger said. “Perhaps my gray hair provides some gravitas!”