Latest News

Inside SCO's recent million-dollar renovation

Elle Perry
Memphis Business Journal


To respond to students' needs and wants, a local college is close to completing a nearly million dollar renovation.

Southern College of Optometry (SCO) is wrapping up a renovation and expansion of its dining and study spaces that began in April. Construction is scheduled to be completed before the college’s incoming class arrives for orientation Aug. 23.

"The college is responsive to students," said Jim Hollifield, SCO's director of strategic communication and marketing. "They asked for more study and dining space. We were pleased to look at what we could do."

On the fourth floor of its 11-story tower in the Medical District, the college closed in an interior balcony space, creating an extra 1,000 square feet. Access to more natural light was added, as were new furnishing and amenities. Student lockers were relocated to the sixth floor; in their place, private study spaces and a lounge area were added.

Hollifield said the college views the infrastructure investment as benefitting the neighborhood and the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, as well. The Blink Cafe, part of the college's renovation project, will be open to the public.

The cafe was updated with an expanded kitchen and new furniture to serve both dining and studying functions. Melissa Williams is the proprietor, while her son Glaze Hardage is the chef. Blink Cafe's homemade cakes are also available at Arcade Restaurant.

Formus Inc. led the architecture design and Grinder Taber Grinder served as contractor.

Founded in 1932, SCO is one of 23 colleges in the country offering a Doctor of Optometry degree.

Unlike SCO, other optometry schools are generally part of a larger college or university. The closest optometry colleges outside of Memphis are in St. Louis (University of Missouri-St. Louis) and Birmingham (University of Alabama at Birmingham).