Bordered by Poplar and North Parkway, with Cleveland Street as the main drag, the Crosstown neighborhood just east of Uptown Memphis is best known by its anchor, the 89-year-old, 1.5 million-square-foot Sears Crosstown building. When Sears Crosstown opened in 1927, it was the largest building in Memphis to date. As a regional distribution center and Memphis’ premier Sears retail store, the building thrived for more than 60 years, finally closing down in 1993.
In 2010, the Crosstown Arts organization set its sights on repurposing the mammoth building as a mixed-use, vertical, urban village. The former retail giant is being reimagined as Crosstown Concourse, which is set to open in the first quarter of 2017.
Crosstown Concourse will house a variety of businesses: local nonprofits, including the Church Health Center, ALSAC/St. Jude, The Pyramid Peak Foundation and A Step Ahead Foundation, as well as educational institutions, such as Christian Brothers University and the Southern College of Optometry. Crosstown Arts will offer free art, music and performance exhibitions, as well as shared art-making labs. The loading dock area will house shops and restaurants, and a sizable outdoor plaza will provide space for community festivals, film screenings and other events.
The Concourse will include 260 residential spaces, ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments. Information on residential leasing is set to be released in the fall of 2016.
All that said, you don’t have to wait for Crosstown Concourse to open in 2017 to enjoy Crosstown. The neighborhood is already alive with unique shops and restaurants. Here’s where to go and what to do.
Crosstown: Where to Shop
438 N. Cleveland St. • (901) 276-3333
Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Cleveland Street Flea Market is Memphis’ largest, permanent, indoor flea market. Stop in for an incredible selection of vintage clothing, accessories, housewares, records and furniture. The flea market has been operating since 1998, and while Crosstown Arts has given it a makeover, many of the regulars remain. “That’s why the flea market is so great — many of the original vendors are still there, going at it; making sales and having fun communing together every weekend,” says Kristin Young, vendor/proprietor of Le Saispas Vintage. Find the perfect one-of-a-kind, vintage garment that just doesn’t fit right? See Ms. Shirley who provides on-site alterations. There’s a barber shop set up in the back and a repairman to fix your stereo, television or vacuum.
421 N. Watkins St. • (901) 278-8965
If you love estate sale finds, Tut-Uncommon is the place to go for unique and vintage jewelry at reasonable prices. Memphians in-the-know shop here for that one-of-a-kind brooch, cuff links or a statement piece. Aside from jewelry and accessories, they also carry a decent selection of furniture and home decor.
437 N. Cleveland St. • (901) 494-2477
Owner Carla Worth operates her cleaning business out of the North Cleveland Street location, and she also sells her line of homemade, all-natural cleaning supplies. The lemongrass-ginger all-purpose cleaner is her best seller, and she offers a wide array of housecleaning products in a variety of fragrances.
425 N. Watkins St. • (901) 272-2300
After nabbing some products at Aunt Key’s to keep your house clean, stop in Bubble Bistro on Watkins behind the Flea Market to find some things to clean YOU. This bath and body boutique sells all-natural, handmade toiletries with heavenly fragrances. Bath bombs, body butters, oils, soaps, shampoo bars, body sprays — Bubble Bistro has it all and is a quality, local alternative to similar mall chains. The menu of products and fragrances is rotated frequently so you can always find something new.
Crosstown: Where to Eat
496 N. Watkins St. • (901) 530-6767
Only open since 2015, Mardi Gras Memphis serves authentic Louisiana Cajun cuisine. The restaurant’s red velvet cheesecake has already garnered a cult following, but before you get to dessert, you must try such delights as the Shrimp. Grit. Grind., which is shrimp and grits straight out of New Orleans, or the filet Etouffée, and wash it all down with a Hurricane. Mardi Gras is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
394 N. Watkins • (901) 443-0502
Dine-in, take out, or order delivery of fresh pizza, sandwiches and a salad. Catch a Grizzlies’ game while enjoying a Pulled Memphis (pulled pork barbecue) or Sears (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and olives) pizza. Midtown Crossing bills itself as a pizzeria/sports bar, and boasts live music and karaoke for added entertainment.
306 N. Cleveland St. • (901) 552-3652
Housed in a strip mall on North Cleveland, Phuong Long enjoyed a much-needed overhaul, and now gets rave reviews on Yelp. Phuong Long offers an extensive menu of traditional Vietnamese fare, such as Banh Mi and Pho, and regulars rave about the bubble tea and lemongrass tofu.
Want to learn more about Crosstown? Visit crosstownconcourse.com for a complete list of current tenants, to look at additional renderings and more, or visit the Crosstown Concourse Facebook page. And if you want to find even more to love about Memphis, download the SB App. It’s FREE!