Part of what made Sears Crosstown so great was its shear size - 1.5 million square feet. But when it closed in 1987 its shear size was also part of the problem.
Nobody could figure out what to do with 1.5 million square feet, not until now.
In a morning gathering at the University Club of Memphis, a room full of people vitally interested in the rebirth of the old Sears building, listened intently as Todd Richerson gave them an update.
"Rather than just simply recruit folks to co-locate, the idea was to recruit people that share mission and vision and there for are able, willing and excited about sharing resources, space and being next to each other," he said.
That is exactly what happened, and many of the people in the room have some connection with the group founding tenants.
"If you come in with nine partners as we have done - Church Health Center, Rhoades College, ALSAC, St. Jude, Methodist, West Clinic, the Gestalt Charter School, Memphis Teacher Residency the whole Crosstown art pieces for emerging artists - there will be apartments; places for young doctors to live," said Ken Hall, Church Health Center.
They are calling it a vertical urban community and the fact that the plan has unfolded so quickly, has long time Memphis developer Lyman Aldrich duly impressed.
"They gave the stat of already having 72 percent of the building pre-leased," he said. "It's an absolutely amazing feat. In my opinion. I never thought they would have this as far along. I thought they would still be planning along the way. Did not know what to expect when I saw this morning and I was very impressed with where they are and what they are planning on doing."
Aldrich is quick to add, progress and prime leased space is great but no development moves until the money moves. Financing is the next and most critical phase of the Crosstown project.
But everyone at this briefing agrees, things are looking up for this old Memphis landmark.
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