Crosstown Development

HISTORY

When the Sears, Roebuck & Company Catalog Order Plant and Retail Store was constructed, its Crosstown location was considered to be almost unreasonably far into the Memphis suburbs.  Clearly, much has changed since Memphis Mayor Rowlett Paine cut the red ribbon and officially opened the store in 1927.  Memphis now extends east far past the intersection of North Watkins and North Parkway, and Sears' catalog division is no longer in existence.

1927.
The Sears, Roebuck & Company Catalog Order Plant and Retail Store officially opens to much fanfare.  It is the 14th Sears retail location in the country and welcomes almost 30,000 shoppers on its first day of business.  More than 1,000 people were employed to staff the original 53,000 square-foot retail store and to process the 45,000 orders that came into the catalog center each day.


1965.
The last of five separate additions to the original tower is completed, resulting in a total facility of 1,500,000 square feet.

1983.
Shifting demographics and population depletion in the city's urban core lead Sears to close the Crosstown retail location.  It continues to maintain a surplus goods store in the basement of the building.  As a result of the decline in the mail-order business, Sears shuts down warehouses across the country.

1993.  
Sears closes the Crosstown distribution center.  The building is left vacant.

2000.
Sears sells the Crosstown building to a group of New York investors, Memtech, LLC, for $1.25 million. 

2007.
A Memphis-based investor group, Crosstown, LLC, purchases the property for $3.5 million. The Crosstown neighborhood is one of the city's most ethnically diverse and economically-challenged areas but includes a growing number of creative residents and businesses, including Brantley Elzey, Five in One, Chris Swinson, Lucero, and Memphis Independent Recording.

2009.
Todd Richardson, a University of Memphis art history professor, and Christopher Miner, a video artist, form Crosstown Arts to accelerate arts-based community and economic development in the neighborhood.  Events such as MemFEAST and Pecha Kucha, and public lectures from renowned arts administrators and urban planners such Bert Crenca, Amy Whitaker, and Alan Boniface, are met with enthusiastic support by the local arts community.

2012.
The Sears Crosstown Development Team announces that they have signed memorandums of understanding with a group of nine Founding Partners who have formally indicated their commitment to lease approximately 600,000 square feet of this historic property. 

Our thanks to Sarah Frierson and the Memphis and Shelby County Room of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center.