Crosstown Project Secures $200M Financing; Announces New Name; Holds Groundbreaking Celebration

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January 21, 2015

CONTACT: Joel Halpern

Crosstown Project Secures $200M Financing; Announces New Name; Holds Groundbreaking Celebration

Back in 2010, a group of visionaries stood at the corner of North Cleveland and Autumn and saw a way forward for Memphis. They were staring at a long‐abandoned, 1.5 million square foot warehouse, but what they envisioned was much different. Hiding beneath the graffiti and blight, they saw a vertical urban village, a place where Memphians could live together, work together, and learn together. They imagined a hub for urban revitalization, anchored by education, healthcare, and the arts.

Five years later, that vision is becoming reality.

The Crosstown Development recently secured a senior loan of $80.5 million from SunTrust Bank. Add that to a mix of 21 different funding sources, including public, private, and philanthropic, and the total comes to more than $200 million—all dedicated to preserving and redeveloping the historic building, 1150‐car parking garage, and the surrounding 19‐acre site.

What does that mean? It means this once blue‐sky idea is really happening. On December 30th, 2014, Crosstown gave the green light to its general contractor, Grinder Taber Grinder, to commence construction.

Take a look at Crosstown’s fourteen‐story tower. For the last twenty years, it has been an imposing reminder of what used to be. But in the not‐too‐distant future, it will be illuminated again, lighting the way to a better, healthier future.

II. A New Name

Until now, when Memphians have talked about the building, they’ve called it Sears Crosstown. But Sears is long gone, and the surrounding neighborhood proudly claims the name Crosstown. Now it’s time for something new.

That’s right. The old Sears building is getting a makeover. New name, new branding. The works. And to celebrate, a community rally has been planned for February 21st, 2015— 88 years to the day after the initial groundbreaking in 1927. The event will feature food and live music, an exhibition of new renderings, plus a ceremony including presentations by developers and public officials.

There will also be an iron pour, during which radiators from the building will be melted down by local artists to produce one‐of‐a‐kind commemorative tiles for Crosstown’s supporters. A visual metaphor for the project as a whole, these tiles emphasize how the creative process has shaped every discussion. It’s proof that the raw materials we need to reinvent ourselves have been right here all along.

Crosstown Groundbreaking Party
When: Saturday, February 21st, 11am – 2pm
What: Presentations, Food, Live Music, Iron Pour Where: Corner of Autumn and N. Watkins
Who: All Are Invited

III. The Big Picture

Crosstown is a vertical urban village dedicated to the cultivation of health and well‐being. The mixed‐use redevelopment will include restaurants and retail, a small grocery, a fitness center and health clinics, a charter high school, a contemporary art center, commercial offices, and 265 loft‐style apartments. Each day, 3000 people are expected to pass through the building.

Projected to open in 2017, the collaborative effort will transform a once disinvested area between Downtown and Midtown into a center for wellness and urban revitalization. According to an economic impact analysis commissioned by the City of Memphis, the building will create 800 jobs and generate more than $37 million in new wages annually.

“Despite its beloved history and prime location,” says Todd Richardson, co‐leader of the Crosstown Development Team, “no one really thought this building could be redeveloped—much less transformed from a symbol of debilitating blight into a community asset.”

“The complexity of the project created some daunting challenges,” says McLean Wilson, the project’s other co‐leader, “and it took intense dedication to overcome them. But it was well worth it. We can’t wait to construct this vertical urban village and cultivate meaningful interactions among our amazing tenants.”

Kemmons Wilson Companies will oversee the project. Architecture firms Looney Ricks Kiss and Dialog (Vancouver) partnered on design. Grinder Taber Grinder is the general contractor. SunTrust Bank, the largest financing source, led the syndication of an $80,500,000 senior loan.

“Leading the senior debt financing for the redevelopment and preservation of the historic Sears Crosstown building is a proud moment for SunTrust Bank,” said Johnny Moore, SunTrust’s Memphis division president and CEO.

Other banks that participated in the senior loan include Bancorp South, Cadence Bank, Financial Federal Bank, Independent Bank, Magna Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Renasant Bank.

SunTrust Community Capital led the $56,000,000 New Markets Tax Credit transaction, participated as an investor in the amount of $18,322,200 and provided $10,000,000 of its own allocation. Other community development entities providing allocation for the New Markets Tax Credits include Dudley Ventures, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Mid‐City Advisors, Midwest Renewable Capital, and National Trust Community Investment Corporation. Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group participated as the Historic Tax Credits investor.

“On a massive project like this, there are not many green lights; the whole world is made up of red lights,” explained Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton. “Sears Crosstown is Exhibit A of how to overcome obstacles in order to rebuild the core of our city.”

IV. Quick Facts

  • The Sears Crosstown building is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the largest historic adaptive reuse projects in Tennessee’s history.
  • The building is currently 1.5 million square feet. Multiple atria and select demolition will reduce the renovated space to 1.1 million sq. ft.
  • $200 million from 21 different sources, including philanthropic, private, and public funding, has been secured to complete the project.
  • Over 450,000 square feet of space has been pre‐leased.
  • An estimated 3000 people will pass through the building every day.
  • 265 loft‐style apartments are planned for floors seven through ten, including studios and one‐, two‐, and three‐bedroom units.
  • The 1150‐car parking garage next to the building will also be renovated

V. Current tenants:

ALSAC/St. Jude
Church Health Center
Crosstown Arts
Gestalt Community Schools
Memphis Teacher Residency
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
A Step Ahead Foundation
Christian Brothers University
City Leadership
The Excel Center
The Poplar Foundation
The Pyramid Peak Foundation
Southern College of Optometry
Crosstown Back Foundation
Teacher Town, USA