MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis College of Art announced it is leaving downtown and moving the graduate program back to its Overton Park campus.
Many credit the school for helping transform the artsy South Main District when it moved in five years ago.
South Main was pretty much empty when it moved in, but now there’s $500 million dollars worth of development underway.
No one with the college got back to WREG as of Tuesday night.
Students didn’t want to say much either except that college officials apparently want everyone on one campus, so graduate students could mentor undergraduates.
People who lived in the area don’t seem to be offended by the decision.
“It’s kind of disappointing for the art district, because this is an art district,” said resident Joe Sills. “But if they move it to Midtown that makes sense, because their main campus is there. ”
Downtown Commissioner Paul Morris gave WREG a statement saying “Although we are disappointed that the graduate school of art is leaving South Main, they certainly leave the building and neighborhood much better than they found it five years ago. Then South Main was struggling with many vacancies and the building was blighted. Today, the building is beautifully restored.”
In fact, the college pumped $2.5 million into restoring the building.
Right now, it houses the graduate program, a gallery, studios and rental property.
“A lot of people want to keep South Main going, so I have confidence it will fill up,” said Bridgette Wallace who worked at Red Velvet Vintage.
Shops and restaurants in the district weren’t too concerned either.
Many said they typically rely on tourists for business.
“I have never had a student who came in here, and I speak with a lot of customers,” said Wallace. “I’ve never had a student from the College of Art.”
WREG was told the college plans on packing up by next fall.
The Downtown Commission was confident the building wouldn’t sit empty for long.
College officials said they plan on holding some forums to ask you what you’d like to see done with the building too.
College officials released this statement Wednesday morning:
“At this time, we are exploring the possibility of moving our graduate programs back to our Overton Park campus and have engaged Artspace Consulting Services to assist us in determining possible future uses for the graduate school building in the event that this decision is made. Should MCA’s Board determine that moving the graduate programs back to Midtown is in the best interests of our students, the earliest that such a move could occur would be for the Fall of 2016.”