Sears Crosstown Project in Memphis, Tennessee

By Steve Barton | August 14, 2015

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There have been a number of significant construction and development projects in Memphis, Tennessee recently. Perhaps the most ambitious is the redevelopment of the old Sears Crosstown warehouse located on 19.4 acres at 497 North Watkins near N. Parkway in midtown.

Initially built in 1927, it was one of 14 massive Sears & Roebuck warehouses and catalog distribution centers spread across the country. It was the largest building in Memphis when it was completed. The gigantic, 1.4 million square foot art deco edifice closed in 1993. Since then, its sheer size has frightened off those considering renovating the building-until now.

Crosstown, LLC, a group comprised of local investors and entrepreneurs, has now undertaken the project. The general contractor on the project is Grinder, Tabor and Grinder, Inc. and the architect is Looney, Rick, Kiss, both Memphis firms. The total cost for the job is estimated to be approximately $200,000,000.00, and is being partially funded by a community development block grant from HUD. The final product will be called “Crosstown Concourse”.

Although some work has been taking place since 2012, the official groundbreaking, with all of the appropriate fanfare, occurred on February 21, 2015. The project is a mixed use planned development which will include a school, medical facility, assembly hall, retail sales and cooperative art spaces. It will also include 270 apartments, approximately 90 of which have already been preleased. The final product has been described as a 675,000 square foot, 10 story, “vertical village.”

Currently, work is underway refurbishing the parking garage and restoring and upgrading the building’s core and shell. This is no small undertaking, considering the deterioration, corrosion and general dilapidation of the interior and masonry façade. Nevertheless, it is estimated that construction will be complete and the project open for business in the winter of 2016.

When the giant reawakens, it will provide a much needed cultural and commercial shot in the arm for this largely ignored area in the city.

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