Closing Memphis College of Art's 14 sites will transform Midtown

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With Memphis College of Art set to shut down by 2020, the closure will free up millions of dollars in Midtown Memphis properties for other development.

That bombshell announcement of the college's closure came earlier this week, because of declining enrollment and financial instability.

Leaders at the Memphis Chamber told WMC Action News 5 the college's unfortunate closure could actually be transformative for Midtown Memphis development.

"I don't think it'll be long before you'll see a lot of new activity going on," said Mark Herbison, Senior Vice President of Economic Development, with the Memphis Chamber, "I think for retail, for housing, for a lot of things, it's going to be a very hot property."

The college occupies 14 sites. All of them will be going up for sale. The college is working to get the properties listed now. Below you can see where the college's properties are located:

The city owns the land in Overton Park, but MCA owns the iconic Rust Hall, whose value according to the Shelby County Assessor's Office is nearly $5 million. Newly renovated residence halls on Barksdale carry with them roughly $2 million in value, each. Other properties have value in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

MCA won't release a dollar figure on what it believes it's total property is worth.

"People will have a lot of interest because of Overton Square, the zoo, that entire corridor," Herbison said.

Herbison said the demand for Midtown real estate has never been hotter, meaning it's unlikely the buildings MCA leaves behind will stay empty for long.

The college told WMC Action News 5 there's no timeline for when buildings will sell, and it will be based on how they can consolidate operations to continue serving existing students, which is expected until May of 2020.

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