Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Eyesalve of Crosstown

Tossed in with the very good news that Andy Cates has an option to purchase Sears Crosstown is CA reporter Amos Maki's second reference to the building as an "eyesore".
The 1.4 million-square-foot Crosstown building has been a Midtown eyesore since it closed in 1993.
And here's the first reference.

Mr. Maki isn't alone. Michael Finger in the Memphis Flyer article "Eyesores" included not only Sears Crosstown, but the Chisca Hotel, the Rhodes Jennings Building, and the Sterick Building in the list. Devin Greaney echoes Finger, calling the Rhodes Jennings Building an "eyesore" in the June issue of Downtowner Magazine.

They're using a pejorative, loaded term to dis-scribe historic but empty buildings. Buildings whose power and energy and beauty shines through their present state of use and, sometimes, maintenance.

If we believe Sears Crosstown is an eyesore, how can we begin to describe the butt-ugly banality that is the Holiday Inn - University of Memphis? The eyesearing surface parking lots that pockmark our urban landscape? The clear cut lots that deface Memphis' majestic arbor?

No, Mr. Maki is wrong -- Sears Crosstown soothes the eyes. Whether you're standing before its magnificent mass on Watkins, or viewing it from the Auction Street Bridge, or the top of the Peabody, or from the ferris wheel at the Mid-South Fair (through 2008!), it is a salve for the black eyes we get every day from the bottom-fed abominations that destroy Memphis natural, historic and man-made beauty.

When a good writer of our paper of note can offhandedly dis-scribe that beautiful building as an "eyesore", is it any wonder that we have gangs of yahoos cruising Memphis on top of bulldozers?

Sears Crosstown from the Auction Street Bridge, Mud Island

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Blogger Elizabeth Alley said...

The Flyer also called the Vito Acconci artwork an "eyesore" - and people call us provincial!

10:02 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

even if I personally hate a piece of public art, I love it! Acconci's work was also a ill-chosen inclusion, given the amount of artless and destructive development they had to choose from.

3:41 PM  
Blogger field guide to memphis said...

actually other people have plans for the old sears building as well. junkyard memphis is scoping out that spot as a potential site for an interactive, multi-generational use akin to the city museum in st. louis.

3:35 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

That's great news too. Junkyard Memphis would be a good anchor tenant, adding great value to the site.

The family's planning on visiting the St. Louis museum in the near future.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right! I didn't mean to say the building itself was an eyesore, clearly it isn't. To be more accurate I should have said something like "neighbors, preservationists and architecture buffs lamented the buildings current condition, vacated and lifeless." or something like that. I read your blog every day. Give me a call so we can talk.
Amos Maki

6:01 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Mr. Maki, I appreciate your comment and your candor. I left a message for you at the CA.

6:14 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Hit the publish button too soon. Also appreciate your work.

6:15 PM  
Blogger *** said...

Lisa Williamson is a dynamo and the perfect person to make the Junkyard Museum happen! The Sears building would be an awesome staging area for her concept, and if it is anything like the one in St. Louis it will be a destination -- there are far too few offerings for families and children in Memphis as it is.

4:32 PM  
Blogger NICK A. DAVIS said...

blah, blah, blah - each year - someone comes up with the idea of buying this grand building and the deal falls thru. Blah, blah, blah - what we all need to do as talkers is = group together and buy the build and develop it, stop talking about it and DO IT!!! I love the Sears building - I would buy it - but I need people to help - invest - come on - e-mail me - and let's talk!!! Amos - you are doing a great job!!!

4:55 PM  

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