Category Archives: Business

Plans for new development on former Waite’s site move forward

Waites Fine Foods currentThe demolition of the former Waite’s Fine Foods property, located at the southeastern corner of Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard and 7th Avenue South, was approved on a 5-4 vote during yesterday’s regularly scheduled Birmingham Design Review Committee meeting. The vote took place nearly a year after plans were first announced for a $13 million, four-story, mixed-use development on the site.

The developer, Retail Specialists, and the architect, Bill Segrest of Williams Blackstock Architects, must still return to the committee to receive final approval for the building’s design.  Segrest told the committee he and the developer still hope to incorporate parts of the existing limestone facade into the new structure, though they did not want to promise to do so as of yet in case it was not able to be salvaged during the demolition process. If it cannot be salvaged, it was stated efforts would be made to reference distinct architectural elements in the new design.

Rocky’s had originally announced plans to relocate before demolition started via an article in the Birmingham Business Journal last April. A recent interview with stated a new location has not been secured as of yet. It was also suggested it will most likely re-open along one of the metro area’s other commercial corridors at a later date if they choose to do so. The current location will close on Saturday, March 19. Another tenant of the existing building, Stillwater Pub, closed on January 31, announcing the date last August.

They hope to start demolition next month, with construction starting this summer and the building ready for occupancy in summer 2017.

RELATED: Proposed Southside mixed-use redevelopment draws attention, 4.8.2015

Silver Airways indefinitely suspends plans for southeast expansion, including Birmingham

Silver Airways saab340bSilver Airways formally announced plans on June 10 to indefinitely suspend beginning non-stop service from Birmingham, AL to Jacksonville, FL and New Orleans, LA less than a week before the flights were scheduled to begin, according to several media outlets. As recently as May 16, the Fort Lauderdale, FL-based company was promoting an airfare sale for the new routes, first announced in April. The company released a statement, referenced by WVTM 13 in their report, stating in part, “[d]espite robust marketing efforts, this market is not able to support flying this route at this time.” Refunds are being offered and the airline’s website still shows the proposed expansion on its route map.

It would have marked the first offers of direct-flight service to the two destinations from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport since Southwest Airlines discontinued serving them in 2013. A similar lack of support within the market was cited by the airline and in a subsequent report when the plans were announced in late 2012.

Silver also announced plans to not offer direct service between Orlando, FL and Savannah, GA on June 11 (service was set to begin June 23). (though Savannah was already celebrating the return of seasonal direct-flight service via Allegiant Air to several cities in Ohio). It was not the first time the company intended to expand its footprint only to delay and eventually suspend the plans. January saw Silver announce its intention to offer service from St. Pete Clearwater International Airport to Fort Lauderdale and Key West beginning in March. The change in plans (first delaying them, eventually backing out completely) came shortly after the company announced several new appointments: chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and vice president of airports and customer service.

According to an interview the Sun Sentinel conducted with company CEO Sami Teittinen in February, it’s been refocusing its efforts on Florida and the Bahamas in recent months. There is still a presence in the metro Washington, DC area, but it has seen its own share of issues and concerns recently (though efforts to remedy others appear to be working).

Proposed Southside mixed-use redevelopment draws attention

Central City FlyerBirmingham, AL-based Retail Specialists announced pre-leasing has started for a proposed $13 million redevelopment of the former Waite’s Fine Foods property located on the southeastern corner of 7th Avenue South and Richard Arrington, Jr., Boulevard via a press release and their own website. The proposed four story building, to be called Central City, would contain three stories of residential units (45 – 30 one bedroom and 15 two bedroom/two bath units according to the announcement) sitting over approximately 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail/commercial space. Company officials referenced a similar project currently under construction in Montgomery started late last year and scheduled for completion this September, 79C, as a template for the project — company’s second residential effort in the city (after 29 Seven in the city’s Lakeview district).

Waites Fine Foods currentReports filed by the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) and confirmed two existing businesses — Rocky’s Pizza and Stillwater Pub — will need to close if the project proceeds. Pictures of pre-leasing signs placed in the former Waite’s space had already been appearing on Facebook before the announcement. A piece filed by Bryan Davis on the BBJ’s website April 8 says Rocky’s plans to re-open; efforts have not been made by this website to contact Stillwater Pub, though a post was made to their fan page on Facebook Tuesday afternoon stating in part:

Remember that Stillwater is about the people. It’s not a building or even particularly a name, it’s us. Thanks for always being there and supporting us as usual and we will be at it tonight, so come on by! Know that we love you all.

It is mathematically possible for both businesses to return to a completed project based on the 12,000+ square foot portion of the ground floor retail space being labeled as available for subdivision. There will be 35 dedicated off-street parking spaces for those patronizing the eventual retail tenants in addition to dedicated space for residents. The entrance to the residential lofts will be from the off-street parking lot. The press release named Bill Segrest of Williams Blackstock Architects as the architect and DeeDee Everitt of Retail Specialists, LLC as responsible for managing leasing of the retail space. It also stated that the developers hoped to use as much of the limestone facade as possible in the redevelopment of the property “[t]o give a nod towards nostalgia.”

The project still needs to go through the city’s permitting process before construction can begin, including a presentation before the city’s Design Review Committee. Members were informed at the end of their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 8 that the proposal would need to come before them for approval as it does sit in a design review district.

Breakfast at Milo’s on Southside near UAB starts February 10

Milo's via instagramBirminghamians online were pretty excited last month when they found out Milo’s Hamburgers‘s Southside location at 401 19th Street South (at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue South) was going to start serving breakfast next Tuesday, February 10 (via Twitter). The photo of the Mega Deal illustrating this post is already making us pretty hungry too. Now, we at least have an idea of what menu choices will be available for customers.

The location, the first of the Birmingham, AL-based chain’s fifteen to offer a new way to start the day, will serve breakfast between 5:30 and 10 a.m. The email from representatives for the company did not say whether or not it will be closed for the 30 minutes between the end of breakfast and its current opening time of 10:30 a.m. The menu will consist of breakfast wraps, biscuits and sandwiches, (with meat choices of Conecuh sausage, bacon, sausage patties, or chicken) cinnamon rolls, and hash browns.

The announcement about the Southside location, follows a refresh of the company’s existing locations and its marketing strategy — in addition to being able to add bacon to any sandwich — that started last year. The Southside location will be celebrating another milestone in advance of Tuesday’s first breakfast shift; Saturday marks 32 years since it opened as the chain’s first franchise location (a feat almost sidetracked back in 2013).

Photo: via Milo’s Original Burger Shop’s Instagram account.

Longtime Forest Park grocer V. Richard’s announces it’s closing via Facebook

V_Richard'sV. Richard’s, the long-time (read: nearly 20 years) specialty grocery store located in Birmingham’s Forest Park neighborhood announced it was closing today via a post to its fan page on Facebook. According to the photo included, the retailer’s lease was broken and everything must go, resulting in 50% discounts off of all meat, grocery, and produce items. There are no plans to reopen this business in another location (per the link included in our update). The news was shared a little less than four hours before the Microlove open house at Naked Art Gallery this evening. The closure means the closest grocery store for area residents is the Piggly Wiggly located at 3314 Clairmont Avenue.


Its entry on Bhamwiki provides a fairly complete history of the retailer. The business had operated along Clairmont Avenue since 1995, beginning with a space at 3908. It moved into its current location, 3916 Clairmont Avenue — the building formerly occupied by Payless Drugs, in 2004. It allowed for more space, seating for dining, and a considerable increase in customer parking.

V. Richard’s had explored expansion in the Birmingham market twice. It opened a second location in Homewood in 1999 but it closed within 18 months. The grocer had also been announced as an anchor tenant in 2010 for the long-awaited renovation of the Pizitz Building in Birmingham’s City Center, but as the project faced continuous delays it backed out.

The grocery’s parent company still operates Catherine’s Market, located at Lake Martin as part of the Russell Crossroads development. Another property once associated with the company, Enzo’s Market in Chattanooga, TN, closed in June 2014 and was replaced with a concept store called Grocery Bar. The V. Richard’s name will live on, however — the Brookfield, WI location bought from the Littles in 2002 still uses it (albeit in a smaller space than it first occupied).

UPDATE: Bryan Davis of the Birmingham Business Journal reports an inability of owner Ricky Little and the landlord to come to terms on a new lease agreement as the reason for the unexpected closing.

Photo: Courtesy of the V. Richard’s fan page on Facebook.

Plans for Beer Engineers space in Parkside stall

IMG_20150127_124941Plans for Beer Engineers to move into the Wood Wade building, located at 112 14th Street South, have stalled. It was confirmed during a conversation with its owner, DB Irwin, III, earlier this week. The craft brewer had ceased beer production in July.  It had been operating  via a contract brewing agreement with Back Forty Brewing Company in Gadsden. The proposed renovation of the building, (first announced in April 2013 with reported estimated costs ranging from $5 – 6 million) had received approval from the city’s Design Review Committee in May; and was to have started during the fourth quarter of 2014. Irwin told the Birmingham Business Journal in December 2013 he’d hoped to grow the craft brewer to as many as 35 employees once open.

Though the building sits idle, construction continues on either side of it and throughout the Parkside district (as the proposed entertainment district’s boundaries were formally identified as in mid-December),. Good People Brewing Company continues to move forward with plans to upgrade and expand the public portion of its facilities in time for the start of 2015 Southern League baseball season. Across the street, the former Merita Bread factory is undergoing a transformation into Bakers Row — a mixed use development undertaken by LIV Development and Corporate Realty — slated to open later this year. LIV Development is the company behind the LIV Parkside development located at the corner of 18th Street and 1st Avenue South. Corporate Realty has also received a zoning variance for several properties located on the 1600 block of 1st Avenue South, directly across from Railroad Park, during the last City Council meeting of 2014. The proposed use of the site, as presented to city officials, involves office space, a hotel, and a 700 car parking garage.

Potential U.S. Steel reductions in Alabama announced as plans move forward for new world headquarters in Pittsburgh

USS-FWAER007U.S. Steel announced potential temporary layoffs of as many as 2,000 across two states late Monday afternoon, January 2. The reductions could begin as early as late March according to most reports, including one by WBRC-Fox 6. The proposed reduction could result in 1670, nearly 77 percent of the company’s 2170 employees at its Fairfield Works and Fairfield Tubular Operations properties not working for an extended period of time in addition to workers in Texas. reports union representatives have been talking with company officials, noting the final numbers are “subject to change based on market conditions.” WIAT 42 reports the potential impact on nearby businesses reliant on those workers is real and significant.

The layoffs were announced the day before the Pittsburgh-based company’s initial fourth quarter earnings reports were released — reports that boast the its highest full-year net income levels since 2008. They are also not the only moves hinted at by the company in recent weeks; layoffs have already been announced for plants in Ohio and Texas. Company leaders are expected to explain the rationale behind the decision during a conference call on Wednesday morning, January 28.

UPDATE: During the January 28 conference call (audio file via Reuters), company officials said the length of the layoffs and the final number would be dependent on market demand for product over a rolling two-month period.

The news also follows the announcement of a court-approved settlement with the Hill Community Development Corporation last week allowing U.S. Steel to move forward with plans to build its new world headquarters as part of a redevelopment plan for the former site of Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena. The city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority approved a tax abatement district for the project on January 26 as part of that agreement. The new 268,000 square foot, five story building may now break ground during the third quarter of 2015 and will include a museum and retail space according to a report in the Pittsburgh Business Times. It will anchor a project estimated to cost $440 million and slated to include affordable housing, infrastructure improvements, and job training resources for those living in the surrounding area. The move frees up more than 425,000 square feet of space in the tower that once bore the company’s name in downtown Pittsburgh.