Tag Archives: downtown

Multi-million dollar renovation underway at The Redmont Hotel

Redmont renovation beginsIf you’ve driven by The Redmont Hotel in recent weeks, you’ve noticed plywood covering some of the windows and doors on the ground floor. The last two days have brought increased activity to the historic hotel as the first significant signs of its estimated $13.4 million renovation are now visible. Crews and machinery were in front of the building this morning. It will be the first extensive project undertaken at the hotel since 2007.

The property was one of the first ten to be awarded state tax credits as part of the Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program earlier this year. It appears to be the first of those located in Birmingham to move forward with related work.

Last August saw Hay Creek Hotels announced as the hotel management company hired to oversee the renovation. They’ve already created a landing page for the property in its reservation network; Stewart Perry is serving as the project’s general contractor. The hotel has held a renovation sale during the last month, with management holding a party in the lobby back in June. Attendees were told at that time the property’s rooftop bar, Above, would open before the renovation was completed.

Man commits suicide this morning in Birmingham parking deck

wftowerEmployees in the Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Birmingham were gathered in windows along its southern edge on Wednesday morning. The images they shared via social media networks told the story of a situation unfolding before their eyes and its somber conclusion.

Birmingham police secured a parking deck on 4th Avenue North and the area around the 1900 blocks between 3rd and 4th Avenues North after receiving reports of a man with a gun. The standoff ended shortly after 9 a.m. when tactical teams approached the red pickup truck he was sitting in and discovered the shot heard earlier was what took his life.  According to Lt. Sean Edwards, the man was in his late 30s had worked at a structural engineering firm downtown.

AL.com’s Carol Robinson shared several tweets throughout the morning, posting a full recap on their website shortly before 10 a.m.

Birmingham made its fourth Livability top 10 list. This time, it’s for downtown

downtownbhamfromredmtnThe word’s been spreading like wildfire all afternoon – Birmingham, AL was included (as number 10) on Livability.com’s list of the top 10 best downtown areas for 2014. Fort Worth, Texas topped the list, that also included cities like Providence, RI, and the other #bham, Bellingham, WA.

A statement shared via email by Birmingham Business Alliance president Brian Hilson expressed excitement about the significance of the latest recognition by outside media outlets:

“This is fantastic news, not only for the City of Birmingham, but for the entire Birmingham region,” said Hilson. “Downtowns, especially active ones like ours in Birmingham, help project a positive community image. Downtowns serve as a signature place for the community they are part of. They contain history, and they represent current and future economic vitality. In most metropolitan areas the downtown is the economic hub of the region, and that’s definitely true in Birmingham because of the concentration of employment, as well as the livability features downtown Birmingham offers. It is exciting to see downtown Birmingham receive this much-deserved recognition. We’ll use this positive news to promote further investment in Birmingham.”

The announcement adds to an ever-growing collection of top 10-type lists on which Alabama’s Magic City has been a part – including previous lists published by Livability.com. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the website, launched in late 2009 and published by Franklin, TN-based Journal Communications, strives to be a resource about “America’s best places” and “what makes cities truly livable” (according to their fan page on Facebook) while chronicling more than 500 cities across the country.

The city has been previously recognized as having one of the top 10 libraries for children (#9, 2012); one of the top 10 spring break destinations for families (#6, 2013); and a top 10 place to retire (#8, 2013).

“The Sign” now apparently has an online voice on Twitter

PepsiSignTwitterThe opinions about the soft drink advertising covering the electronic message board sitting atop Two North Twentieth in downtown Birmingham are varied, though now it appears it wants to speak for itself.

A Twitter account, @BhamPepsiSign, appears to have been created sometime yesterday for the controversial sign. The account’s bio states it’s “the official voice of the Birmingham Pepsi billboard.” There have been efforts since the sign’s installation started to catch the attention of Pepsi, and this may prove to be one of the more visible ways to do so.

The two-sided advertisement for Pepsi, paid for by local distributor Buffalo Rock, covers an electronic sign installed in 1971 to commemorate the city’s centennial atop the International style building. The sign’s installation is in advance of the sold-out March 28 preseason exhibition game between the Birmingham Barons and the Chicago White Sox. The Barons have the distinction of being the only team associated with the White Sox to not have a Pepsi corporate sponsorship. This includes the Charlotte  Knights, their Triple-A affiliate, whom set to open their new ballpark next month. They just signed a multi-year sponsorship and beverage-serving deal with Pepsi last month. It seems to correspond with our commentary on the sign from December 2012, though it could be coincidental.

In case you’re wondering, “The Sign” is currently following both Pepsi and Buffalo Rock; they aren’t following back – yet.

Meanwhile, Coca Cola United, the nation’s third largest bottler of Coke products,  is looking towards expansion, including a potentially significant one in Chattanooga.

Help Sojourns continue its journey

Sojourns GoFund screenshotMelissa Kendrick and her store, Sojourns, need Birmingham’s help. Long before cups of coffee were being poured at Urban Standard or folks were sitting down to a cold one at all of the trendy bars gracing downtown Birmingham, she took a chance in 2005 and opened what is arguably one of the first businesses to be truly part of the city center’s revival.

According to the GoFundMe campaign set up by Max Blalock on Tuesday afternoon, a sewer line at her house collapse that is not covered by her homeowners insurance policy is placing Kendrick in a financial bind. While a status update on Facebook let us know she’s secured a part-time job, perhaps sharing the link to the page and seeing just how close she might be able to get to the goal would help too.

Incidentally, she’s also going to need some volunteers for an upcoming fashion show benefiting the Rape Response program at the Crisis Center…

A new lot for food trucks in downtown Birmingham

bhamfoodtrucklotThose watching and waiting for progress on the city of Birmingham’s food truck ordinance will no doubt be happy with what they see happening at 211 Richard Arrington, Jr., Blvd. between 2nd and 3rd Avenues North. It also means there are a few more options for lunch in this portion of the city’s central business district.

It appears as though a long-term use has been identified for the vacant lot Barber Companies has had available since September 2009. The property was being considered to be the home of the Trim Tab Brewing Company before they chose to locate in the former home of the Barber Motorsports Museum in Lakeview.

Cantina sent out the following tweet on Monday morning:

Gravel has been placed in the lot, with an image shared by the Birmingham Business Alliance via Twitter on May 16 showing a large crowd and the Melt and Dreamcakes food trucks in place on the lot. Based on the two tweets and the food truck community’s busy weekend, the site has most likely been in use for less than a week so far.

It looks like things will continue to stay busy for the Greater Birmingham Food Truck Coalition in the coming weeks; a search of their website shows they currently have plans to hold their second rally catty-corner from WorkPlay on June 9 (the property is primarily a paved lot). The event listing shows tickets costing $10 in advance. They are also still trying to make sure folks are aware of the organization’s alternative proposed suggestions for the ordinance.

A new parking location for the VA patients and visitors

New veterans parkingFolks driving into downtown Birmingham along 22nd Street this morning probably noticed a new blue sign or two looking at them as they approached 5th Avenue N. They may have also noticed a lot of folks standing at the corner of 22nd St. and 4th Avenue N., catty-corner from the home of The Birmingham News and AL.com.

Once you saw the buses pulling up – and did a little digging online – it all started to make sense. As of today, all veterans and visitors utilizing the Birmingham, AL Veterans Medical Center located at 700 19th St. South will need to park on the city’s north side and take shuttles to the facility. There is no cost for them to park in the deck according the VA’s website.

As Mike Tomberlin reported in The News back in January, the VA needed to secure new parking options to replace the 799 spaces they leased from Children’s of Alabama. Their new facility – the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children - opened in early August, necessitating the access to the spaces itself.

The VA’s current solution, the Birmingham Parking Authority’s Parking Deck #4, was built in 1984 and contains 673 spaces. According to a response to a question on the medical center’s Facebook page, the move is a temporary one “until the VA builds its clinical annex.”