More openings on tap at Crosstown Concourse over the next year

The $200 million Crosstown Concourse mixed-use project celebrated its grand opening on August 19, but more work is still underway for new commercial and retail tenants that will move in over the next year.

Large scale additions include a 425-seat auditorium and classrooms for Crosstown High School. 

Construction has been ongoing at the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution center since January 2015, following a development planning period stretching back to 2009 and 2010.

New commercial office tenants include Greenline Pet, which handles records and documentation for veterinarians, and the Urban Child Institute. ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Crosstown Arts should move in in October.

Crosstown Arts will occupy approximately 40,000 square feet of the tower. Their nonprofit's presence will stretch across a 28,000-square-foot performance space, exhibition space, 13 apartments for artists in residency and membership-based art making labs, which will include wood and metal workshops, a recording studio and a digital media lab.

“Sort of like you would pay a membership fee to have access to the YMCA for workout equipment that would be either too expensive or too big to own, you can pay a membership fee to have access to a full professional wood and metal shop or a digital media lab with extensive software, large-format printing, a laser-cutter, and a CNC router,” said Dr. Todd Richardson, co-leader of Crosstown Concourse.

The new Crosstown Arts performing arts theater is currently under construction.

Crosstown Arts will feature a family-style café and bar, which will open in early 2018. Family-style seating encourages customers to sit with people they don’t know and get to know each other better.

“We’re also building a 425-seat performing arts theater that is dedicated to independent film and live music,” said Richardson. “It’s under construction right now and will be completed in July of next year.”

LRK and Spatial Affairs Bureau are the architects, and Grinder Taber Grinder is constructing both Crosstown Arts' space in the building and the theater.

The Urban Art Commission will be moving its offices into the current Crosstown Arts Gallery space across the street once Crosstown Arts moves into the concourse building.

Crosstown Brewing Company, a brewery and tasting room, is also under construction now and will be finished by the end of the year.

The Next Door American Eatery is the newest business to move into Crosstown, opening up on August 29. Area 51 Ice Cream should open by mid-September, Lucy J’s Bakery and Cheryl Pesce Lifestyle Store will open in the fall, and Radici Pizzeria should open by the end of the year.

Hernando-based Area 51 is expanding to its second location with the move to Crosstown. The shop will occupy a 500-square-foot space in the main atrium.

“We’ve been looking for another location for a while,” said Karin Cubbage, who owns Area 51 with her husband, Steve Cubbage. “We knew that Crosstown was a project that we wanted to be a part of, and it was just a good fit for us.”

Area 51 is known for its handmade ice cream, which is made with ingredients from local farms. Unique flavors include blackberry goat cheese, Saigon cinnamon snickerdoodle, coconut brown sugar. Hand-dipped ice cream sandwiches, made with freshly baked cookies, are also a favorite menu item.

“Crosstown is great because everybody that’s there is excited to be there,” said Karin Cubbage. “To see the building come full circle and now be open, so full and so alive with people, it’s really cool.”

The shop’s interior at Crosstown includes salvaged materials from the building’s past, including an old elevator door hanging over the dipping cabinet.

“We tried to pay a lot of attention to paying homage to the history of the building,” said Cubbage.

Area 51 is one of 42 businesses or organizations leasing space in the building’s 1.2 million renovated square feet, including Church Health, the YMCA, City Leadership, Tech901, Curb Market, French Truck Coffee, Juice Bar, Mama Gaia and many others.

On opening day, the commercial and retail space was 96 percent leased, with only 20,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of retail space left available.

The new Crosstown High School, which will be part of Shelby County Schools, will welcome its first students in August of 2018. The school will start with just the 9th grade for its first year and add grades in subsequent years. It will eventually consist of 550 high schoolers once it is at capacity by 2021.

Crosstown Concourse’s 265 apartments on the 7th to 10th floors are 92 percent leased and 85 percent occupied.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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