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VOL. 8 | NO. 30 | Saturday, July 18, 2015

Editorial: Creatives Prove Memphis’ Cool Factor is Heating Up

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“If you have the vision, and the gumption, you can create something original in Memphis.”

The Memphis News cover story this week features four distinct entrepreneurs who are living, working and creating in Memphis. The aforementioned quote comes from Ben Fant, principal at local marketing firm Farmhouse. He is just one member of the city’s creative class, one guy trying to make something lasting for himself, his employees and his city.

But the coolest thing about Fant and the three other creatives featured this week is they aren’t working in a vacuum. Memphis’ cool factor is back, and in recent years the city and its residents seem to have regained a lot of swagger.

Memphis, historically, has been hip, but the glitterati of Elvis Presley and Al Green had gotten a little dusty. Enter Justin Timberlake and Craig Brewer to revive the spirit.

And while those may be A-list examples, there’s a broader story underneath: Memphis is in the middle of a renaissance of sorts, and the creative class is leading the movement.

That renaissance spills over in smaller, more incremental ways – outside of international celebrities – that include Fant’s Farmhouse, Phillip Rix’s Phillip Ashley Chocolates and Brit McDaniel’s Paper & Clay.

It also includes bigger, broader real estate projects like Crosstown Concourse. A 1920s-era building abandoned for more than 20 years is about to become the most creative, innovative project Memphis has ever seen. The vertical urban village will mix arts, education and health care in one building. A St. Jude researcher or an artist in Crosstown Arts’ residence program will be able to live, work and play in one place.

Watch a movie, have a cup of coffee, work out, take in a performance, shop, check out a library book and then have dinner in Kimbal Musk’s acclaimed restaurant chain, The Kitchen. It sounds too good to be true.

And if Crosstown Concourse is the local real estate market’s Justin Timberlake, there are plenty of Ben Fants in the mix as well.

Take Artspace, for example. It’s not on a $200 million scale, but it’s adding to the larger goal.

Artspace has been in the works for years, and currently developers are working to close a $2.2 million financing gap by the fall. Once it’s complete, it will offer 58 live/work units for artists and their families, community and gallery space and an outdoor arts garden.

All of these examples, all of these people, don’t paint the whole picture. They are indicative of the creative movement though, and it’s a movement that has a lot of Memphians feeling good about where they live.

As Fant said, “It’s a fantastic time to be in Memphis.”

We think so too.

PROPERTY SALES 90 283 8,118
MORTGAGES 94 333 9,118
BUILDING PERMITS 199 644 17,711
BANKRUPTCIES 40 109 5,268