Four big developments Memphis anticipates in 2018

The development surge continues across the Mid-South this year as several high-profile projects are expected to make a big impact. Here’s a look at a few that will change the way we live, eat, play and get around in Memphis during 2018.

Central Station

The $55 million mixed-use redevelopments of historic Central Station and the surrounding area on South Main iEW progressing on schedule with some portions on track to open later this year. The adaptive reuse project, which includes the existing seven-acre Amtrak station, will include the renovation of the historic Central Station tower (which had previous housed 50 apartments) into a 135-room boutique hotel and commercial space, as well as the conversion of the adjacent Powerhouse into a six-screen Malco Theatre.

“Malco is aiming to open this year to take advantage of the big holiday season for movies,” said Alex Turley, vice president of real estate for the master developer of the Central Station project, Henry Turley Company. “We should have the transit elements complete in ‘18 as well.”

The Central Station project is part of the larger redevelopment of an area that was previously heavily industrial and blighted with vacant properties in spots over the past two decades. Last year, construction crews began making streetscape and parking improvements outside the station.

“We saw an opportunity to create a ‘Welcome to Memphis’ experience,” said Turley. “With the building being repurposed as a hotel and Amtrak coming in twice a day, people get off THE train and suddenly they end up in this place where they can stay, this active place where they are welcomed to the city in an exciting way.”

South Main trolleys were discontinued in 2014.

The return of the Downtown trolley system

Following an initial projected re-opening for late 2017, last month the Memphis Area Transit Authority announced plans to delay the return of the vintage steel-wheeled trolley car system on Main Street until April in order to fully complete the repair, restoration, and safety testing of the trolley cars.

Six trolley cars are needed to restart passenger service and only three were fully rehabilitated as of early December. The remaining cars are currently being rebuilt at Ida Grove, Iowa-based Gomaco Trolley Company. The three remaining cars will be delayed due to an unexpected discovery of wood rot and other necessary repairs to the trolley underbodies, roofs and floors.

Testing on the rail system was conducted throughout the second half of last year, and minor repairs and adjustments are being made.

MATA suspended trolley service in June 2014 following fires on some of the vintage rail cars. Since then, MATA has used hybrid buses on Main Street followed and rubber-wheeled imitation trolleys.

Dr. Chandra Sledge Mathias, principal of Crosstown High.

Crosstown Arts, Crosstown High and more

The remaining pieces of the Crosstown Concourse mixed-used redevelopment will open this year. The $115 million, 10-story complex is revitalizing the surrounding area by bringing together a wide variety of businesses, retailers, restaurants and residents into a building that had sat dilapidated and dormant for several decades.

Early this year, Crosstown Arts will begin occupying approximately 40,000 square feet, which includes exhibition space, 13 apartments for artists-in-residence, a 28,000-square-foot performance space and membership-based artmaking labs, which include wood and metal workshops, a digital media lab and a recording studio.

"As construction projects across Crosstown Concourse wrap up, we're beginning to see the fully realized vision of this vertical urban village — a place where diverse interests combine to form new connections. And 2018 promises to carry that vision to fruition as Crosstown Arts, Crosstown High, the Concourse Theater, Crosstown Brewing Co., and other new tenants open their doors to the public,” said Bianca Phillips, communications coordinator for Crosstown Arts.

In the coming months, Crosstown Arts will open a music venue and plant-based cafe/bar in its space on the second floor, and just downstairs, it will open shared art-making labs where both professionals and hobbyists will have access to digital arts, music, wood/metal working, printmaking and photography equipment.

“In the summer and fall of this year, Crosstown Arts will welcome artists from all over the world for its expanded artist residency program,” said Phillips.

Crosstown High recently selected its fall freshman class of 150 students through a lottery system and is gearing up for an August opening. Crosstown Brewing Co. is on track for a February taproom opening, and Concourse Theater, a new 425-seat performing arts theater, will kick off its first season of music, independent film and performing arts in the fall.

The new Collierville High School

Tennessee’s largest public high school opens in Collierville this fall near the intersection of Sycamore Road and East Shelby Drive, where an estimated 3,000 students will attend the new $93 million, 450,000-square-foot Collierville High School.

The school will feature a state-of-the-art library, a 3,000-seat gymnasium, a cafeteria and auditorium that will seat 1,000 apiece, as well as a 5,000-seat football stadium and an indoor practice facility with artificial turf.

“The new Collierville High School demonstrates the Town of Collierville’s continued commitment to an exceptional educational experience. Like many elements of the Town, this new facility will be innovative, combining technology with a highly trained faculty and staff,” said John Duncan, Collierville's director of economic development.

“Our citizens, business partners and community leaders expect high-quality products and services. The new Collierville High School promises to exceed all community expectations.”

The new school will replace the existing high school which which had become overcrowded.

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.