Monday, October 23, 2006

The Colossus of Crosstown, Part 1

Sears Crosstown north wall detailA few days ago, Nick Davis of The World of Nick A. Davis, Detour Memphis and Save LibertyLand (now The Memphis Magnet) mentioned this blog. I'm happy to have readers, and readers who might find some value -- all the better. Thanks, Nick! (and many more thanks for the work he did to save Libertyland).

Regarding the background image I used, the Sears Tower in Crosstown, Nick added this link of which he said:
the link for Sears Tower goes to a Memphis Flyer article about a possible development in the crumbling Sears Tower located in Crosstown - a very declining and dangerous part of Midtown Memphis. The possible development never came through and the building is falling apart. A call to the land development board back in June said the deal was dead and no one was looking into doing anything at the site. Last week a man in the coin laundry nearby was robbed and stripped of his clothing. The area hasn't seen any goodtimes since the early 90s.
Obviously, Nick is a big fan of the building and other historic structures in Memphis. I just wanted to add a slight -- slight, I say! -- counterpoint to what he said.

Sears Crosstown south tower wallIf I can go on superficial visual evidence, I don't think the Sears Tower is crumbling. Decaying like all flesh, yes, but crumbling no. There are some broken windows and the rust on the fire escapes. The bricks and beautiful ornament look pretty good from all the views I got and there didn't seem to be any evidence of vagrants breaking in. Overall, I think it looks great, period, and awesomely great for a building that hasn't been used in 13 years. I'd wager that the Sears Tower will be standing in a thousand years if a bottomfeeder with dynamite doesn't show up in the next five.

Also, I don't think Crosstown is declining -- it has declined. The good times didn't disappear after the early 1990's; they started dripping out in the 1960's when our city fathers allowed Crosstown to be vivisected with I-240 and Midtown with the promise of I-40. Sears Crosstown warehouse south wallIf anything, the area, with the infill of the homes in the I-40 destruction zone, has more promise than anytime since the 1960's. There's no doubt that Crosstown is for the vigilant, but it's important to note that the Sears Tower is only 1/2 block from a stable neighborhood to the east and just across North Parkway from stable neighborhoods to the north and northeast. Visionary developers, retailers and citizens can build on those successes without going too far from the tried and true and profitable. Lookee:

Sears Crosstown south wall detailAnyway, minor quibbles. I want to write something longer about the Sears Tower and its possibilities, but for now I wanted to thank Nick and post these pictures of this Colossus of Crosstown.

By the way, if you want more and better views of this magnificent edifice, Alisa in Memphis has posted a great Flickr set.


Anonymous John Cameron said...

Check these out for what is possible with Sears distribution buildings.

10:13 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Sorry for not replying earlier. Many thanks for the links, John Cameron.

2 things I got out of the ULI link:

1) the city governments of Minneapolis and Atlanta both owned their "towers" after Sears abandoned ship.

2) 2 of the Sears buildings are gone. It pains me.

I'd like to know if there's lots of asbestos in the Sears Tower. I used the Sears Tower as my background because a co-worker of mine had remarked that it had so much asbestos that it "would be cheaper just to tear it down"*. Aaaaghhh!

Asbestos or not, it's worth it.

*"would be cheaper" -- a euphesism of the Destroyers. More on that later.

8:05 PM  
Blogger jared said...

Seriously though, it is likely that Sears Crosstown has some serious environmental concerns to be addressed before the site becomes attractive to a developer. What is the cleanup cost for asbestose on a site that large?

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

asbestos isn't the main issue. it's the lead paint. though the distribution shut down back in the eighties, the tower and office space was still in use up till '95.

some pics

12:20 AM  

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