At iConvergence, we are constantly looking to the future to stay in step with the latest IT trends. Our customers rely on our company to provide them a way to leverage technology so that they too can stay in step within an ever-competitive market landscape. This past week in Memphis, we were proud to play a role in bridging the gap between what was, what is and what shall be in a very poignant way that is sure to revitalize a community for many years to come!
On Saturday, August 19th, Crosstown Concourse held its official grand opening ceremony. It was a rebirth celebration that was nearly 90 years in the making, in a once abandoned and decaying building that had first sprung to life in late August, 1927 as a massive Sears department store.
The 10-story, 1.5 million-square-foot facility is now home to more than 40 business tenants, including a performing arts theater, a 25,000-square-foot YMCA, several restaurants, an art-making lab, small grocery, coffee shop, bakery, pharmacy, barbershop, an 8,000-square-foot rooftop deck and a rooftop greenhouse.
iConvergence was honored to play a role in this reawakening of a long sleeping giant by working with the local investors from the earliest states of the project to its recent grand opening. From the Cisco Switches and Meraki Wireless Access Points throughout the building to the Cisco Spark Cloud-based phone systems that several of the tenants are utilizing, we were able to inject a future-proof solution into a history-filled structure while still keeping the aesthetics timeless. iConvergence will also be responsible for the ongoing management of the building infrastructure and its public wireless services.
The project held an even deeper meaning for Beau Peyton, a Memphis native who manages iConvergence’s growing presence there. Beau took the time to share his thoughts and recollections on the festivities as well as this building and the community it has helped to anchor all these many years:
Crosstown, Then and Now
It’s easy to get caught up in all the mayhem and misery in the world, especially in Memphis, where we face seemingly insurmountable problems with poverty, crime and educational issues. But if you allow yourself to become overwhelmed, as I often do, you miss a tremendous amount of good. Daily acts of kindness, generosity and diverse people coming together for the common good.
We had a major feel good event in Memphis yesterday, the grand opening of Crosstown Concourse, the jaw-dropping renovation of the old Sears building. The million square foot building was originally built in 1927 and housed not only a Sears retail store, but an enormous distribution facility. It finally closed in the early 90’s and sat empty for many years until a couple of really smart and innovative thinkers, Todd Richardson and Chris Miner, hatched a brilliant idea to restore and reinvent the facility.
I’ve had a deep emotional connection to the project from its earliest stages, because I spent a good portion of my childhood in that neighborhood. I’d ride my bike to Sears every week. I bought my first baseball glove there as well as my first album, “Elton John’s Greatest Hits.” Like many people that grew up in and around Crosstown, we were saddened to see its decay. My mother also grew up in that neighborhood and watched it transform from “the place to be” in the 1930’s and 1940’s to a community marred by rising crime, poverty and hopelessness. For most of us, we thought the building and perhaps even the neighborhood were goners.
Challenging conditions are still present in the community, but the transformation of the building into a multidimensional urban village filled with housing, businesses, educational and medical institutions, art, music and recreation is the Crosstown community’s cornerstone for change. It’s a catalyst, literally and figuratively, of colossal proportions.
At the opening, I saw people from all walks of life smiling, singing, dancing, telling old stories and walking around in sheer amazement. There were no social barriers in Crosstown yesterday. We were all just people sharing a monumental moment in Memphis history. I was so proud to have played a small part in the project. It was quite emotional for me. But I’m a pathetic sentimentalist that desperately clings to the consequential events of my life, especially the people and places of my past. I tear up too easily. As the night ended and the plaza emptied, I looked back at the door I used to walk through when I was just a kid. One more time, I closed my eyes and imagined the layout of the old store. I walked past boys clothes and took the escalator downstairs where the Craftsman tools were displayed. I went back upstairs to women’s clothing where I’d look for places to hide while my grandmother shopped. I thought about Christmastime, the decorations in the store and compiling my check list of wants. I looked out at the plaza and imagined where the sporting goods and auto shop used to be. Where I’d park my bike. Getting lunch at the Krystal.
Then I opened my eyes and absorbed the present, surveying the glistening lights of the building and considering what I’d witnessed throughout the day. Everything seemed brighter and better. I knew my grandmother, always the social butterfly, wouldn’t have missed last night. She probably would have skipped 8Ball & MJG, but I know she would have loved to see it all come back.
Just before I crossed Cleveland Street and headed to my car, I took one last glimpse before moving onward. I’m sure thousands of others did the same thing. We were all one yesterday, moving from the cherished past to the promising present.
What a wonderful and eloquent testimony from Beau! Looking back, this project will continue to serve as a shining example of the long-standing motto we strive to live up to every day at iConvergence – “Bringing People and Technology Together!”