Crosstown Concourse is billed as a vertical urban village. Todd Richardson likes that name, but he also likens the redevelopment of the 1.5 million-square-foot former Sears & Roebuck distribution center to a multi-layered cake.
Richardson is co-founder of Crosstown Arts and managing director of Crosstown Concourse. The redevelopment of the long-vacant Sears Crosstown building is based on a vision he wasn’t ever really sure potential tenants would grasp.
“I told the development team and owners of the building from day one that I’m not going to spend the next few years of my life trying to convince people of something they don’t think they need,” he said. “I’ll share a vision and they’ll either think they need it or not. I’m happy as a professor at the University of Memphis. Our identity wasn’t wrapped up in it. Fortunately some great organizations embraced it and wanted to be part of it.”
When it opens in the spring, Crosstown Concourse will feature 10 floors of everything from restaurants to retail, medical offices to health care providers, and nonprofit offices to residences. Instead of several hundred thousand square feet of space spread across commercial strip centers, Crosstown Concourse takes it all upward.
Crosstown Concourse is many years in the making, but the idea has been floated for the past 10 years or so between various stakeholders. Richardson said the tipping point came with a news story in August 2012 that revealed the founding partners, which included entities such as Crosstown Arts, Methodist Healthcare, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Memphis Teacher Residency. From that point, potential tenants began to seek out the project.
“The real benefit of the building is its scale and opportunity to put together tenants who want to be near each other,” Richardson said. “Organizations who are here have seen who their neighbors are going to be and they’re excited about sharing resources and even space and employees.”
One example of tenants working together is the plan to have Church Health optometrists use part of the Southern College of Optometry’s clinic space. Another is Church Health’s and The Curb Market’s programming partnership, including sharing a commercial kitchen.
Richardson said there are at least five leases that are at the “1-yard line.” There are five or six more spaces available on the retail ground floor and some 23,000 square feet in the commercial office space. Crosstown Brewery recently signed a lease for a new space on the west side of the building.
Here’s a closer look at the tenants that have signed on so far.
A Step Ahead Foundation
A Step Ahead Foundation was founded in 2011 to provide women of Memphis and Shelby County free long-acting reversible contraception, with the goal of preventing unplanned pregnancies. Part of the organization’s vision is to decrease poverty by reducing economic strain and encourage career opportunities for women in the community before childbirth.
As Crosstown Concourse’s largest tenant, Church Health will consolidate all of its buildings across Memphis into one 150,000-square-foot space in Crosstown Concourse, bringing wellness services, cooking classes, clinical services and so much more to one address. Not only does the move bring all of its services under one roof, it also allows for a major expansion of its medical and wellness space.
Church Health has also partnered with YMCA to open a gym and wellness center within Crosstown Concourse.
Christian Brothers University
Christian Brothers University will have a collaborative innovation space that will be used for a variety of academic programs, said Cory Dugan, Director of Communications Strategies for the school.
“Not only will it provide a great collaborative learning space for our health sciences programs, but it will also be able to support our partnerships with the many forward-thinking educational organizations in Crosstown Concourse,” he said. “We also envision having an opportunity to use the space to serve the needs of our graduate business programs.”
City Leadership will relocate its offices from Downtown. The nonprofit organization began in 2010 as an effort to lead other nonprofit organizations as well as schools, government agencies and the greater community toward greater collaboration. It does that through leadership coaching, consulting, research and media development. It also runs the Choose901, Teach901 and Serve901 campaigns.
The Curb Market
The Curb Market is a locally owned grocery located on Cooper Street that will open a second and much larger location in Crosstown Concourse. The store sells artisan goods and fresh meats and vegetables. The Curb Crosstown will have a butcher shop along with a full kitchen and deli.
Crosstown Arts began in 2009 with a mission to further the arts community through events and programming, as well as providing showcase space for artists and musicians. Crosstown Arts will move from its location on Cleveland Street across from Crosstown Concourse. Once housed in Concourse, Crosstown Arts will organize the various arts components that will be found throughout the building. It will also manage nearly 45,000 square feet of gallery and performance arts space within the building and a 450-seat performing arts center in an outparcel.
Crosstown Back & Pain Institute
Crosstown Back Institute will provide evidence-based care to patients with back and neck pain. The Crosstown Back Institute’s treatment approach will include counseling, injections, acupuncture and even surgery, all under one roof at Crosstown Concourse.
Crosstown Brewing Co.
Crosstown Brewing Co. will build a freestanding building on the west side of the main Crosstown Concourse building where it will brew beers to be sold in a taproom as well as distributed around the city. Co-founder Clark Ortkiese said the target is a January groundbreaking with a possible opening as early as summer.
The plan continues to evolve, but Ortkiese said they now think they’ll have one of the biggest taprooms in Memphis.
“We anticipate a good crowd from the Crosstown development itself and from the public at large,” he said.
Crosstown High School
Crosstown High School is a partnership between Christian Brothers University and Shelby County Schools. The 500-student charter school will open in fall 2018 with a projected 125 ninth graders.
The Excel Center for Adult Learners
The Excel Center is a free charter school for adults who have dropped out of high school but want to return and earn a high school diploma. The school is tuition free for adults 18 and older, and will offer day and evening classes.
FedEx Office will open one of its office service centers in the ground floor retail space of Crosstown Concourse.
French Truck Coffee
French Truck Coffee is a partnership between Memphis’ Relevant Roasters and New Orleans-based French Truck Coffee. French Truck will serve as Crosstown Concourse’s coffee shop, but also will work on-site as a coffee roaster to distribute to regional stores and for sale inside Crosstown Concourse.
G4S businesses provide a combination of integrated security products, services and solutions to clients across a range of markets, from communications, education, banking and government to health care, nuclear and residential.
I Love Juice Bar
I Love Juice Bar will open a new location inside Crosstown Concourse to sell its smoothies, juices, food and more.
Madison Pharmacy will serve as a family pharmacy for Crosstown Concourse.
Mama Gaia bills itself as the city’s first restaurant with an all-organic vegetarian menu. The local start-up concept originated with Philipp and Cru Peri von Holtzendorff-Fehling, who had the idea after seeing a trend toward healthier eating in Europe. The restaurant will offer a fresh, artisanal vegetarian menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as several vegan and gluten-free options.
“We want to fill that gap,” Philipp told High Ground News recently. “We truly believe that it’s just an ethical obligation to offer better choices, and it also has a positive impact on the environment.”
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
Methodist will move about 350 employees who work in several corporate offices into a 100,000-square-foot space in Crosstown Concourse. Methodist has more than 13,000 employees in the Memphis area. The Crosstown employees will come from offices such as patient financial services, construction and facilities services.
Memphis Teacher Residency
Memphis Teacher Residency recruits, equips and retains teachers to work in the city’s urban areas where there is a great need for strong educators. Residents commit to teaching in a high-need school for three years following a residency year. Memphis Teacher Residency will use some of the apartments located in the top floors of Crosstown Concourse.
nexAir LLC is a Memphis-based company that will relocate its corporate offices in Crosstown, bringing with it an estimated 65 employees. nexAir is located on Corporate Drive in the Airport area and will make the move in the spring.
“As we began to outgrow our current offices, we were looking to relocate somewhere that spoke to our city’s rich culture of innovation and creativity,” Kevn McEniry, CEO at nexAir said in a statement earlier this year. “We look forward to moving to Crosstown Concourse and becoming a part of this exciting new community.”
The Kitchen Next Door
The Kitchen restaurant concept made its Memphis market introduction when it began service as Shelby Farms Park’s farm-to-table dining concept. Next Door will be located near the main entrance and atrium of Crosstown Concourse and will feature a large outdoor patio that overlooks the main plaza.
The Poplar Foundation
The Poplar Foundation is a private foundation that provides resources for education entities with a focus on low-income students.
The Pyramid Peak Foundation
The Pyramid Peak Foundation provides financial support to Memphis organizations with a variety of educational and community focuses.
SunTrust Bank is a financial services institution that provides a broad range of products. SunTrust provided an $80.5 million loan from for the overall $200 million Crosstown Concourse project.
Southern College of Optometry
Southern College of Optometry will open a full-service clinic in Crosstown Concourse. The college operates two clinics – on its Midtown campus and at the University of Memphis. This will be its third.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/ALSAC
ALSAC will move its contact center to Crosstown Concourse where it will assist individuals and organizations around the world who hold various fundraisers for St. Jude. The hospital also has leased 40 apartments, 20 of which will be used by graduate students and 20 that are reserved for St. Jude families.
Teach For America
Teach for America will move its Memphis office to Crosstown Concourse. The organization’s mission is to “enlist, develop and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.” That is accomplished by recruiting individuals to become teachers in low-income communities with a two-year commitment.
Teacher Town is a nonprofit organization that focuses on retaining, developing and recruiting teachers to serve in the city’s priority schools, those that rank in the bottom 5 percent in the state.
Tech901 is a nonprofit organization that trains individuals to be better prepared for information technology jobs with a goal of growing the area’s technology employees to 10,000 by 2025.
Tenants will begin moving into Crosstown Concourse the first couple of months of 2017. Richardson said he anticipates a grand opening event in May.
Once the massive vertical urban village comes to life, eyes will shift toward the surrounding neighborhood. Crosstown Arts actually has long-term leases on the properties on the east side of Cleveland Street it occupies and will look to work with organizations that want to relocate to the neighborhood.
“The thing we’ve been most intentional about is sharing information so the community can respond to new investment,” Richardson said. “We’ve done things along the way in the neighborhood so that the project and neighborhood mutually benefit.”