Crosstown Concourse Tour

This past week, several ISI team members and I were provided a unique opportunity to take a tour of the Sears Crosstown Building courtesy of the Church Health Center staff and Dr. Scott Morris. According to Wikipedia, in 1927 at a cost of $5 million, the building was constructed in only 180 days, with work crews operating 24 hours a day, six days a week. Sears & Roebuck's eighth regional distribution center included a soda fountain, luncheonette, employee cafeteria, and in-house hospital. The Crosstown Building was a premier Sears retail store for more than 60 years and at its height the distribution center processed over 40,000 orders a day in a building with no air conditioning or technology. Take that Amazon!   

In 2010, The Crosstown Arts project began working on resurrecting the building as a "mixed-used vertical urban village." Developers received commitments from nine prospective tenants called "founding partners" to fill more than 600,000 square feet of the building with various uses. The current plan is to have retail stores and restaurants on the first floor; fitness, health, arts, education, and office space on floors two through six, plus 270 apartments occupying floors seven through ten   

What made this visit particularly fun for all the ISI staff was that not only did we get a chance to see an iconic Memphis building going through a major renovation (that’s capturing nationwide attention) but our tour was conducted by one of the most impressive people I have ever met in my 50 years of living in Memphis. 

Dr. Scott Morris, a family practice physician and ordained United Methodist minister, founded the Church Health Center in 1987 to provide quality, affordable healthcare for working, uninsured people and their families. Thanks to a broad base of financial support from the faith community, and the volunteer help of doctors, nurses, dentists and others, the Church Health Center Clinic has grown to become the largest faith-based healthcare organization of its type in the country.   Besides telling us about the plans for the Church Health Center move to Crosstown, Dr. Morris also spent some time describing the Church Health Center’s philosophy and vision for healthcare in the future. He described how he is  treating his patients with a “life plan” that includes dealing with not just their physical but mental health as well and tackling issues like getting an education, vocational training etc. He further explained that the mission of Church Health Center is to 1) teach 2) preach and 3) heal and that everyone on his staff is committed to that mission.   

I must say that spending the afternoon touring Crosstown with Dr. Morris and the Church Health Center staff was one of the most enjoyable and inspiring experiences I have had in a long time. Crosstown is a magnificent building and I am so proud that my community has taken the bold steps to restore it and return to its former glory.  Very exciting! And Dr. Morris is an incredible asset for the entire city of Memphis in all that he is doing for the poor and underserved. There is no doubt (in my mind) that with Dr. Morris’ leadership the Church Health Center will continue to change Memphis (for the better) and the world around us for many years to come.  

Posted by Jay Myers at 5:06 PM