Crosstown Concourse is among the finalists for an international award that recognizes real estate projects for achieving excellence in design, construction, economics, planning and management.
The renovation and adaptive reuse of the 1.1 million-square-foot Sears building is one of 19 finalists in the Urban Land Institute’s 2019 Global Awards of Excellence competition.
Memphis-based architects Looney Ricks Kiss and Vancouver-based DIALOG designed the transformation of Crosstown Concourse, which officially opened in August 2017.
The finalists were chosen from 80 worldwide submissions. The winners will be announced during ULI’s 2019 conference in Washington, D.C. Sept. 18-21.
Crosstown Concourse is set in what had been an economically distressed district of Memphis. The developers’ goals included using art and art programming to build community in addition to building the $200 million project.
“What distinguished the 19 finalists is the way they have significantly improved the communities in which they are located,” jury chair Jacinta McCann said in a release.
“These projects have brought new life to these places and are creating a spillover effect in their cities. They are unlocking the public realm for use by residents and visitors in a way that hasn’t been available before,” McCann said. “Through their long-lasting impact, they are demonstrating the best leadership globally in the responsible use of land.”
Developers transformed the long-vacant, blighted building that until the 1980s and ’90s had housed Sears mail order distribution and retail.
The building at the southwest corner of North Parkway and North Watkins now is nearly filled with tenants that include nonprofit organizations, businesses, retail, restaurants, health care providers and even a high school. The top floors house 265 apartments, and a brewery, gymnasium and theater have been built on the grounds as part of the redevelopment.
Crosstown Concourse is the only finalist from the Southeast, and one of 14 from the United States.
Already, Crosstown Concourse has received the highest design award given by the nation’s top architecture organization, American Institute of Architects; historic preservation award bestowed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and urban planning award given by the Congress for the New Urbanism.
“I think it’s a bold vision, thoughtful design and it’s great execution,” said Tommy Pacello, chair of the ULI Memphis district and president of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative.
Those three factors have led “the Crosstown Concourse project to really being a special project that has had an impact beyond the parameter of the building and surrounding neighborhood,” he said.
In typical developments, the building is the project, Pacello said. But with Crosstown Concourse, “it felt like the neighborhood and the building were the projects.
“They started the project beyond thinking of it as just a typical redevelopment project, saying, ‘If we take this redevelopment project and bundle it with the right partners and the right philosophy behind the project then the whole will be more than the sum of the parts.
“And that’s proven to be the case,” Pacello said.