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Old Posted Feb 11, 2010, 2:24 AM
Johnny Ryall Johnny Ryall is offline
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It’s ‘full steam ahead’ for construction of $21 million Kroc Center project
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Artist's rendering of Kroc Center of Memphis exterior
Photo Credit : COURTESY TRO JUNG | BRANNEN

Indoor aquatic center will be part of recreational facilities at Kroc Center.
Photo Credit : COURTESY TRO JUNG | BRANNEN

Lobby area
Photo Credit : COURTESY TRO JUNG | BRANNEN

The Salvation Army Memphis has selected Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC to build the $21 million, 100,000-square-foot Kroc Center of Memphis at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, a solid step toward a late February groundbreaking and the end of a challenging pre-development process. “It’s been great after all the neighborhood meetings and focus groups, to be able to meet again with people and show them how we’re doing what they want,” says Stephen Carpenter, director of operations for the Kroc Center. Before starting work with the Kroc Center in 2006, Carpenter had helped co-found New Hope Christian Academy and served as headmaster for 10 years. The site, which covers 15 acres fronting East Parkway and runs from Fairview Middle School to the Fairgrounds entrance, has been cleared of asphalt. Construction is expected to take 16 months with a target completion date of July 2011. “We’re just full steam ahead,” Carpenter says.

The overarching project includes the building and an endowment. In 2005, Memphis was selected as one of 25 cities to receive a matching gift from the Ray & Joan Kroc Trust. The trust will donate $60 million to the project. It initially was going to donate $50 million after $25 million in private funds were raised, but kicked in an extra $10 million due to the site location and demographics. The Kroc Foundation wanted these centers put in places surrounded by various economic and racial groups. There are currently 25 Kroc Centers in various stages across the country, from fundraising to breaking ground. A small center in Atlanta opened last year and two centers in Greenville, S.C. and Augusta, Ga., are at about the same stage as the Memphis one. The Memphis center will be within walking distance to residents in Orange Mound, Vollentine-Evergreen, Cooper-Young, Beltline and Chickasaw Gardens. “For us, you can’t get any better than the Fairgrounds,” Carpenter says.

The project’s land and building costs will total $30 million, leaving $55 million in the endowment for programming and events. Carpenter expects the endowment to have a long life since the nonprofit Salvation Army is fiscally conservative. TRO Jung | Brannen and Fleming/Associates/Architects PC partnered on designing the Kroc Center. TRO was responsible for most of the exterior design and site work; Fleming handled most of the interior design. Ritchie Smith Architects is handling landscape architecture, while Flintco, Inc., was involved in some pre-construction work.

Brett Ragsdale, senior associate with TRO Jung | Brannen, says one design challenge came from the building site facing the large educational buildings of Christian Brothers University to the north and smaller residential structures to the west. “We wanted to be contextual and to do that, we had some large masses which relate to the schools, but we tried to break it down to the scale of the houses across the street, using red brick to relate to residential across the street,” he says. Also, figuring out how to configure the building was challenging, since the Fairgrounds’ future is in a state of flux, especially land to the south and east of the Kroc Center. Initially, the Salvation Army thought it was going to receive 25 acres from local government, but that was scaled back to 15 acres when it was determined it would have to purchase the land from the government. “That challenged us because we couldn’t really cut a lot of programs or space, so we had to try and fit everything on a 15-acre site,” Ragsdale says. “We also didn’t know what was going on around us.” The Kroc Center will be built for four main components: arts, education, recreation and worship. “That’s true for every Kroc Center under way across the country,” Carpenter says. “But how those are defined depends on the individual community.” It will have a 300-seat auditorium that can function as a chapel or theater.
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