If all goes as planned, workers will break ground on renovations for the long-vacant Sears Crosstown building by early 2014.
The project will create and protect an estimated 1,305 jobs, 865 of which are new positions. Additionally, the project creates 997 temporary construction jobs.
That's according to an economic impact analysis of the proposed redevelopment of the Sears Crosstown building that was released last week. When the building has been renovated, the project's founding partners — the Church Health Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, ALSAC, Crosstown Arts, Gestalt Community Schools, Memphis Teacher Residency, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, and Rhodes College — will move all or some of their operations into the building. The building is expected to be ready for move-in by 2016.
Additionally, construction will add 230 apartments to the Sears building. Some will be reserved for students, interns, and medical residents associated with the founding partners. But 105 apartments will be available for the general public. Half of those will be affordable housing, and the other half will be market rate.
The building will also be home to retail, restaurants, and other services that have not yet been determined.
"The retail is going to be primarily put together to meet the needs of the people who are going to be in the building. We may have a coffee shop, some kind of production space, maybe a restaurant, and a small grocery market," said Todd Richardson, leader for the redevelopment project. "But we don't want to put everything in the building, because we want to spur development outside the building along Cleveland."
The project is expected to cost $175 million, and the Crosstown Development Team is asking the Memphis City Council to help it fund $15 million of that total. The rest will be paid for through grants and private donations.
"You can imagine there is a lot of infrastructure, like sewer, flood mitigation, street reconnections, sidewalks, and lighting that needs to be addressed," Richardson said. "That's why we're asking the city to partner with us and the other eight founding partners."
The Crosstown team presented its plan to the city council last week. At that meeting, Memphis Housing Authority director Robert Lipscomb told the council that he is currently researching ways the city can fund the $15 million without tapping into the city's general fund.
"It's critical that we get in-fill development," said council member Shea Flinn. "We have to do what we have to do or this city will not survive. The fact that such five-star [founding] partners have stepped up for this project is nothing short of a miracle."
Fred Spikner, owner of Midtown T-shirt screen-printing company Spikner Inc., launched CrosstownCollaborative.com, where supporters of Crosstown redevelopment can sign up for email news alerts and use an email generator to send a message of support for the project to the Memphis City Council.
"We're trying to build up the Crosstown area to where it used to be in 1927," Spikner said, referencing the date when the old Sears headquarters was constructed. "We want to get rid of the blight, revive the neighborhood, and create more employment."