In an 11-0 vote taken last week, the Memphis City Council authorized Mayor A C Wharton’s administration to grant a $15 million package of local, state and federal funds to the Crosstown Development Project. These funds will augment over $150 million in other private funds and federal tax credits that will be used to develop the historic, 1.5-million-square-foot art modern structure in the heart of the city.
In 2007, the Memphis-based investor group, Crosstown, LLC purchased the abandoned property previously owned by Sears. Crosstown partnered with Todd Richardson, a University of Memphis art history professor, Christopher Miner, an artist, and McLean Wilson, Vice President of Kemmons Wilson, Inc., to renovate the building and accelerate the economic revival of the neighborhood. In 2012, eight “Founding Partners” - ALSAC, Church Health Center, Crosstown Arts, Gestalt Community Schools, Memphis Teacher Residency, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, Rhodes College, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital - executed memoranda of understanding to occupy up to 600,000 square feet of the building upon its renovation. Affordable and market-rate residential units, as well as additional retail and commercial tenants, are also included in plans for the building.
With the City of Memphis’ support, Crosstown leaders are confident that construction can begin in spring 2014 and conclude by mid-2016.
The Crosstown project will be the largest historic adaptive reuse project in Memphis’ history. The project’s unique “vertical urban village” vision will combine health and wellness, creative and educational uses in a remarkably and unprecedented fashion.
According to an economic impact study by the City of Memphis’ Housing and Community Development division, the renovated Crosstown building will support 1,300 jobs – 875 of which will be new jobs – producing annual wages in excess of $37 million. Among the building’s specific features will be a new public high school focused on the arts and sciences, residences for over a hundred post doctoral researchers and teachers, and numerous medical, dental and fitness facilities.