Category Archives: 35203

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

UPDATE: Two-sided Pepsi sign may go atop Two North Twentieth after all

UPDATE: Since this post went live, a follow-up piece has been posted by Mike Tomberlin at suggesting the situation might not be finished yet as Harbert must get committee approval. The original post sits unchanged below.

Changes atop 2 North TwentiethFolks passing through downtown or enjoying Railroad Park in recent days may have noticed that the electronic sign atop Two North Twentieth was dormant. This morning, as scaffolding was visible on the northern side of the building, Mike Tomberlin of reported that the city had granted permission to install a vinyl wrap around the existing sign.

According to his report, this is after it was determined the city’s Design Review Committee – an advisory body who’d seen the proposal at least four times in the previous 19 months during their regular business meetings – did not need to see it after all. We last heard about the proposed treatment for the building’s iconic sign last July when it was denied approval because it was considered a billboard by the committee.

While the building, built in 1962 and renovated in 1999 was sold last summer for $19 million, ownership of the sign was retained by Harbert according to Tomberlin’s report. One thing we’re interested in is the official size of the sign. The building’s entry on Bhamwiki states it’s 176′ x 26′; the late publisher of Black & White, Chuck Geiss, referenced its dimensions as 176′ x 25′ in his Naked Birmingham column for January 4, 2001 as the sign was preparing to make a return to the city’s skyline after an extended absence. This morning’s report said the signs would measure 176′ x 57′.

It’s also a great time to highlight the recent refresh of Buffalo Rock’s website. The company’s logo is in a prominent location (though you’ve got to head over to the site’s “products” section before you find information about the company’s namesake ginger alestill available directly from the company).

New Alagasco operations center means demolition of historic freight station

ICRRterminalThe January 8 meeting of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee included a lengthy discussion about future plans for the significant portion of the former TCI Linn Iron Works property. Natural gas utility Alagasco is looking to redevelop the site, located just off the corner of 14th Street and 1st Avenue North in the city’s burgeoning Entrepreneurial District, for a new operations center. It would be one of two such facilities being developed to handle increased demand in the metro area.

AlagascoBHAMDRCdocDemolition of the largest structure currently standing on the site – a freight terminal once used by the Illinois Central, Central of Georgia, and Birmingham Southern Railroad; and sitting at 14 14th St. N. – was approved as well as a conceptual layout of the new development and its resulting elevations. Alan Tichansky of Williams Blackstock Architects provided committee members with an outline of a report (PDF format) developed to determine whether the structure, most recently used as a mini self-storage facility, could be adapted for the site’s proposed new use. Reasons cited included a list of issues with the building’s current condition – most notably the reported removal of the one story shed’s truss structure bracing and the need for a complete renovation of both it and the two story building to which it’s attached. They also cite an issue with the building’s construction – wood with interior bearing walls – as being “incompatible” with the necessary space layout requirements.

The proposal’s approval was not unanimous and not without concern from committee members (as reported in The Birmingham News last week). It would be the last significant building directly associated with the dominance of rail service along the southern edge of Birmingham’s central business district – leading to the eventual grade separation project and the underpasses at 14th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Streets. Early reports have already motivated some to begin to plan an effort to save the building, most notably “I Believe in Birmingham.” It is not, however, the most significant transformation of property formerly used by Illinois Central.

A quick study of the lower left side of this historic photograph hosted on the website shows a terminal shed sitting along 1st Avenue North between 14th and 18th Streets. Those familiar with this part of town will now probably have a new found appreciation of the name Innovation Depot – housed in the former Sears Roebuck and Co. flagship store that now occupies the property.

Lyric Hot Dogs & Birmingham Landmarks meet, release statement

11062013 Lyric September 2013The Terminal and other area news organizations received the joint statement early this afternoon via email. It’s the result of a meeting between Andrew Collins, owner of Lyric Hot Dogs, and Brant Breene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks – the organization responsible for the operation of the Alabama Theatre and the restoration efforts underway at the Lyric Theatre (pictured to your left in September).

A copy of the statement has been uploaded as a PDF to our site.

The document states that while possible options were considered this morning, “code issues and other realities left the Lyric team with no choice for us to stay in our current location,” according to Collins. It went on to state he would focus on his new business, The Collins Bar (located in the former Metro Bistro location on 2nd Avenue North).

Most people learned of the plans for Lyric Hot Dogs to close in January after receiving a 90-day notice to vacate via status updates to Facebook late last week. A commentary was filed by John Archibald for and The Birmingham News on Monday, with Weld for Birmingham publishing an expanded piece about the situation in their current issue. A statement has also been posted on the Lyric Theatre’s fan page on Facebook via their photo album courtesy of the board chairman, G. Daniel Evans, pertaining to comments made on the popular social network with regard to Birmingham Landmarks executive director Brant Breene.

Some want officials to Rethink 20/59

ULI2059proposalA meeting on Thursday evening of area residents gathered for an event entitled “Save Birmingham from ALDOT’s plan for I-20/59 downtown” has launched an online effort to raise awareness about the current proposals being considered.

The group, calling themselves Rethink 20/59, has created a fan page on Facebook. They have also posted a link to a petition via directed at Birmingham mayor William Bell, the Birmingham City Council, the Jefferson County Commission and Alabama governor Robert Bentley asking them to “rethink the plan for Interstate 20/59” through the city center. The city and county had asked ALDOT last July to reconsider its initial plan to simply re-deck the existing section, leading to the current proposal. The council already stated during their June 18 general business meeting that they intended to meet with ALDOT’s director when he is in town next week.

A second petition launched on June 19 on and created by Stuart Oates entitled Save Downtown Birmingham. It currently has 22 virtual signatures.

This latest development among those speaking out against plans to replace the decking between 31st St. N. and Malfunction Junction and redirecting local traffic patterns is not without precedent in the country. While efforts are underway in Dallas, TX to influence the removal of Interstate 345, the campaign most closely resembling Birmingham’s in the southeastern United States is in Louisville, KY, where 8664 is using Facebook in its fight to remove the Interstate and reconnect a waterfront park to the city’s downtown area. There is also a continuing effort in Syracuse, NY to look at alternatives to widening a stretch of I-81 through the heart of downtown (and coming extremely close to existing buildings in the process).

Photo:  2009 Rendering from ONB Breakfast Briefing presentation.

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.

Norwood neighborhood to hold meeting on I-20/59 changes

20-59 bham Proposed Layout

There’s yet another opportunity for interested residents to learn about the proposed changes that ALDOT wants to make along I-20/59 through downtown Birmingham this week. A Facebook event has been created inviting folks to the Norwood Community Center on the city’s northside tomorrow (Thursday) evening, April 18, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

The current preliminary plans for the I-20/59 bridge replacement project were unveiled during a public hearing held public involvement hearing on March 28 at Boutwell Auditorium. It is said to incorporate comments made during an earlier hearing held last summer. The proposed changes to the section of interstate running through Birmingham’s city center are also available for review via a PDF on ALDOT’s website.

NOTE: If you’re thinking of downloading the file, it’s just under 5 MB in size.

The plan includes removing all the entrance and exit ramps located between 17th and 25th Streets. That area is home to several city center destinations, including the BJCC, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Boutwell Auditorium, and the Jefferson County Jail. The existing roadway in this section would be replaced with one sitting higher off the ground and built using a method known as segmental concrete construction.

There are proposed modifications that  make 11th Avenue North the main thoroughfare. Residents living in Norwood would lose access to the portion of 28th St. N. currently running underneath I-20/59 and they would no longer be able to exit eastbound off the interstate at 31st St. N.

The plan shows Fountain Heights would also see reduced access to the portions of the neighborhood closest to where 11th Ave. N. provides access onto I-20/59 and I-65. There would be no access from 15th or 16th Sts. N., forcing most traffic onto 17th St. N.

Motorists would see portions of 24th St. N. ( between 11th and 12th Ave. N.) and 25th St. N. (between Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr., Blvd. – formerly 8th Ave., N. – and 12th Ave., N.) be removed. They would also see vehicular access along 9th Ave. N. disappear.

The front page of the project’s website states the period for public comment has been extended “10 days from 4/10/2013.” Its contact information page provides an email address and a phone number for you to use if you’re so inclined.

Those interested can also review the slides used for the March 28 presentation (or just head out over to Norwood on Thursday).