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Southern College of Optometry to undergo $1M renovation

Elle Perry
Memphis Business Journal

A Memphis college will spend $1 million renovating and expanding its diner, study lockers and study areas.

Southern College of Optometry (SCO) will renovate the fourth floor of its 11-story tower in the Memphis Medical District. The space was originally built in the 1970s.

The plans will close in balcony spaces to add 1,000 square feet of usable floor space. Blink Diner kitchen will be expanded, and its furniture will be replaced with furnishings that can serve both dining and studying functions. Student lockers will be moved up two floors, and the existing floor plan will be reconfigured to allow more natural light.

The college will accommodate the construction, which is scheduled to begin this month, by temporarily relocating Blink Diner to the sixth floor and offering a reduced, pickup-only menu from May 4 through Sept. 29. The second-floor lobby, the third-floor breezeway and the breezeway between the tower and The Eye Center will be completely closed off, with access to some classrooms and the third floor available from the south side of the building. One of the tower's four elevators will be used solely for construction purposes.

The project is part of the college's commitment to serve its students and the Medical District, said SCO president Dr. Lewis Reich.

“SCO is strongly invested in the Memphis Medical District Collaborative and its efforts to improve the area," Reich said. "These renovations will help facilitate community development and create a top-tier learning environment for our students.

The architect for the renovation and expansion is Formus Inc., and the contractor is Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. The construction is scheduled to begin this month and be completed in the fall.

The college added a new parking lot at 29 S. Bellevue Boulevard in 2015, and in 2012 the college began an $9.4 million expansion to add new classrooms, a flexible, state-of-the-art lecture hall, and a glass atrium and “grand hall” for gathering and study space.

SCO has more than 500 students and residents from 40 states and serves patients through The Eye Center, University of Eye Care at the University of Memphis and its community outreach program screenings to students in public, private and charter schools in Shelby County.