Photo Gallery | Handful of redeveloped 'Sears Towers' stand nationwide
The group looking to redevelop the vacant Sears tower gained the support of the Mayor's office and the commitment of Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb to help find the $15 million dollars needed to help fund part of the Crosstown Development Project in March.
The Land Use Board approved the developer's zoning request on October 10, according to the Memphis Flyer.
Of the $175 million need for the Sear Crosstown project, $160 million of the funds is in the bag. Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb must find $15 million in public funds to pay for necessary infrastructure improvements.
Several organizations—including the Church Health Center, ALSAC St. Jude, and Methodist hospital—committed to moving into the space and raising the capital to refurbish the building.
When looking at the building's past, the Sears, Roebuck & Company Retail and Catalog store in the Crosstown neighborhood was one of ten similar properties that the company had constructed and operated around the country between 1910 and 1930 according to the Crosstown Development Project's website.
Several of these properties, Minneapolis, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, and Boston, have been transformed in recent years as a result of public-private partnerships focused on retail, office, and a range of residential uses.
Many of the buildings that have been redeveloped are recognized for their architecture nationwide such as the Minneapolis property, which is now known as The Midtown Market Exchange.
Other properties, like the Seattle location, have snagged corporate interest. The former Sears, Roebuck & Company Retail and Catalog Seattle tower now serves as the Starbucks Headquarters.
Back in Memphis, the Sears Crosstown Tower was closed permanently in 1993 after ceasing operations for a decade; it has been abandoned for nearly 20 years. When redeveloped, the building would include many elements other refurbished towers possess while integrating health care, education, and arts offerings.
Action News 5's Ursula Madden reported in March that developers said the financial commitment will show the city is serious about the Sears project as it works to move forward in Memphis.
The 1.5 million square-foot former warehouse, distribution, and retail facility located at the intersection of North Watkins and North Parkway on the V&E Greenline is part of city councilor Lee Harris' district. He said the $15 million is a small investment when compared to the returns on the project.
Crosstown developers said the project will create more than 800 new jobs once the project is complete. Also, it will create 1,800 jobs during construction.
The yearly economic impact is estimated at $330 million. The director of Housing and Community Development Robert Lipscomb has committed to help find the $15 million in federal funds so that the city will not have to dip into the general fund.
Developing partners want to move into the Sears Building by 2016.