Location: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Developer: Crosstown LLC
Designers: Looney Ricks Kiss; DIALOG
Site Size: 19.9 acres (8 ha)
Crosstown Concourse is a vertical urban village that occupies a former Sears distribution center in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally built in 1927, the massive distribution center had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair when a local organization, Crosstown Arts, saw the site as a potential space not only for its group, but also for other community organizations.
The tenants and residents of Crosstown Concourse epitomize the collective belief that all lives are improved through well-being, educational, and creative pursuits, which is distilled in their motto, “Better together.” The Concourse’s tenants include a high school, a medical clinic catering to uninsured workers, artists in residence, a café offering business opportunities for refugees, a bakery that employs the formerly homeless at a living wage, and many more. No tenant occupies more than 10 percent of the space, allowing Crosstown Concourse flexibility and resilience if any one tenant moves out.
The renovation, in which tenant buildout occurred simultaneously with core and shell construction, has earned the project Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum for historic adaptive use. The realization of Crosstown Concourse seemed impossible, but in two years, stakeholders pulled together 32 separate sources of funding, and the project achieved full occupancy less than a year after opening. Its success is a testament to what is possible when traditional development models are set aside in favor of direct community reinvestment and collaboration.