After years of dormancy, Crosstown building looks to future - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

After years of dormancy, Crosstown building looks to future

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There's an eerie silence in the Sears Crosstown building.

The building has been abandoned for 20 years. When you look around it's as if everyone just walked away.

Random pieces of equipment sit in the corridors, a highway of conveyor belts still runs throughout the warehouse, and rows of sorting stations line the floors.

The historic building opened in 1927, it was a Sears Catalog order plant and retail store.

It's massive, one and a half million square feet of space. 

Today it's a mess. It hasn't been touched in years. But there's a plan in the works.  

"Now I just see possibility I just see what's going to happen," project manager Todd Richardson said.  

Richardson is the project manager of a team working to redevelop the Crosstown building.

Their plan, turn this blighted building, into this, they call it an urban village

"It's gonna be a whole new neighborhood that's gonna bring 2.500 people to this area," Richardson said.

People who will live here, work here, even go to school here.

What used to be a cafeteria for sears employees will be turned into a charter school.      

Gestalt Community Schools has signed on to run a 500 student high school.

It's one of eight founding non-profit partners that have committed to move into the space.

St. Jude, ALSAC, Crosstown Arts, Methodist Health Care, Memphis Teacher Residency, Rhodes College, and Church Health Center are also on board.

"If it weren't for the 8 funding partners this is just an interesting idea but they're the ones that really put the meat on the bone and to make it possible not just from a financial perspective but from a vision perspective," Richardson said.

"This is going to make us better and stronger. But it doesn't change the mission of the Church Health Centerm," Dr. Scot Morris of The Church Health Center said.

Dr. Scott Morris is CEO of Church Health Center.

The faith based health care organization will consolidate all of its facilities into the Crosstown Building allowing them to offer health care and wellness programs in the same space.

"Take off the Sears part, it's all about Crosstown. It's where all the various parts of Memphis meet. Rich, poor, black, and white. It is going to be a place that is about how we as a community come together" Morris said.

And developers say the project will revitalize the Crosstown neighborhood. They estimate about 1,300 people will work in the building and roughly 875 of them would be new positions.

They've already raised $25 million for the project and they're lining up as much as $40 million in federal incentives.

"It will be a private development with a social mandate so any profits generated by the development will go back into the building and the surrounding neighborhood," Richardson said.

It is quiet there now, but if all goes as planned the building that was once a hub of commerce will become a bustling hub of the community.

You just have to look past the peeling paint, the broken windows, and thick layer of dust.

" I really don't see the decrepit old abandoned building anymore I just see what's gonna be here," Richardson said.

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