The Revitalization Of The Sears Concourse Building
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Is it possible for a community to entrust artists with the responsibility of redeveloping a neighborhood? After all, doubts are understandable; artists are better at being artists and developers are best at being developers. As a matter of fact, does an artist/real estate developer even exist? Just the mere thought seems impractical. Although this may be true in most cities, Memphis, Tennessee is currently in the middle of a Renaissance, and artists are leading the way.
The anchor of this Renaissance is the revitalization of The Sears Concourse building. The Art Deco 1.5 million square foot structure built in 1927 was once a source of pride for the city, attracting 30,000 visitors at its grand opening to marvel at its decadence and eventually serving as a distribution hub for 50 years. Employing 1500 people and attracting thousands of visitors per day in the department store, it was an economic pillar of the Crosstown neighborhood. However, in 2010, the building standing empty for 22 years, became an eyesore that Crosstown co-founder Todd Richardson describes as “ a beacon of hope that is now a disappointing reminder of unmet expectations for the city”. The surrounding neighborhood would keep hoping sooner or later, someone would eventually solve the dilemma of what to do with so much space that had been empty for so long. Year after year, businesses boarded up, houses deteriorated and neighbors lost hope. No one knew what to do; that is to say, until an artist, art