Gestalt Community Schools hope to revive once-magical majestic building

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A new plan could bring the magic back to the Majestic.

In its heyday, the Majestic was a massive 20-screen movie theater in the heart of Hickory Hill. Today, unable to survive the pandemic, it sits vacant, like so many other storefronts and businesses in the southeast Memphis community. But that is about to change.

The first major plan to transform it, announced last year, failed. But now there is a new vision for the old Malco Theater.

Gestalt Community Schools just purchased the 80,000 square foot facility and surrounding 17 acres for $2.5 million.

Hickory Hill resident Kimberly Brown told Action News 5 she was ready to see the revitalization.

“I think it’s a good thing. At least it’s just not sitting there empty,” she said. “There are a lot of empty buildings around here that things move into and eventually move out to.”

Gestalt currently operates five schools in Memphis. The plan is to move its Power Center Academy K-8 students, who currently go to school down the road in buildings that the Gestalt has also purchased and renovated, to the renovated Majestic building. Gestalt CEO Yetta Lewis says, “We believe that school-community partnership is essential for a thriving education system.

Ideas for the Majestic space include an urban farm, fine arts center, green spaces for sports, fitness area and affordable housing.

You may recall that last July, MVP3 Entertainment Group planned a $50 million makeover that would turn the theater into movie sound stages, a recording studio, a restaurant and a hotel. But funding for the deal fell through.

Gestalt is teaming up with Gill Properties and Pinnacle Financial Partners on their Majestic project.

“Hickory Hill is a thriving community with a rich history, strong community partners and great opportunities. One of Gestalt’s top priorities,” said CEO Lewis, “is to rebuild and revitalize the communities where our scholars live, learn and play. This broadens our impact.

Words of welcome for Kimberly Brown, whose daughter Graceland will be of school age before she knows it.

“She’s 3, so she’s got some time,” Brown said. “But it’s good for families with children. There are several charter schools in the area. I know when it comes to my friends who have kids, charter schools are a bit more desirable, less crowded, with smaller classrooms. Hopefully they can get one-on-one instruction with smaller groups.

There is no word on when construction is supposed to begin. But over the next two months, the Gestalt plans to hold town hall meetings to determine what Hickory Hill residents need and want in their community.

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