Tag Archives: announcement

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.

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. AL.com 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.

UPDATE: Birmingham will host the 2021 World Games

UPDATE – 4:45 a.m., 1/22/2015: The City of Birmingham will be hosting the 2021 World Games, important as its both its 11th edition and its 40th anniversary. It will also be the city’s 150th birthday.

The city is the first in the United States to host the Games since they were founded in 1981 when they took place in Santa Clara, California.

The International World Games Association (IGWA) announced the winning city of the 2021 World Games from Hotel Mövenpick in Lausanne, Switzerland beginning at 4 a.m. CST on Thursday, January 22. The decision, made via secret ballot by the association’s executive committee, was announced shortly after 4:45 a.m. CST.  Following the announcement, Birmingham City Council president Johnathan Austin upon taking the podium said, “I think I need to pinch myself… to make sure I’m not dreaming.” Austin continued by recounting part of a conversation from Wednesday evening: “…regardless of who wins, we’re all winners, because now we have relationships, we’re friends with all of the [competing] countries.”

He promised those in attendance at the press conference that “The City of Birmingham will make the World Games 2021 the best World Games that you all have ever seen.”

The following live stream was made available via YouTube  for those following from home.  There was particular interest in Birmingham, AL; Lima, Peru; and Ufa, Russia — the three finalists for selection.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI3RmXfz9iM&w=625]

The announcement was made in the city that will now serve as the headquarters for the international, International Olympic Committee (IOC)-recognized association beginning in February. It had been previously based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The IGWA’s relationship with the IOC was further strengthened in November 2014 when recommendation No. 6 (PDF, page 9) was adopted during an Extraordinary Session of the IOC. It was one of 40 recommendations adopted to “shape the future of the Olympic Movement.”

The Birmingham delegation has been in Lausanne for the last few days and used the following video as part of their final presentation on Wednesday.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/117396024 w=623]

The announcement is only the first step in the process for the city. Now that the games have been awarded, contract negotiations begin next week. The member federations of the IGWA will meet in Sochi this April to confirm the decision of the executive committee. Birmingham is currently set to take over the World Games flag on July 30, 2017 — at the end of the upcoming edition in Wroclaw, Poland.

By the way, this is where we point out that American football was added as an invitational sport in 2017 (and that it’s still possible to add baseball for 2021).

Photo: via Johnathan Austin’s Instagram account.

Digging into the UAB athletics announcement: A timeline of interest emerges

There are two slides that were added to the presentation made to the Alabama chapter of PRSA on Tuesday, January 13, before it was uploaded for sharing. These slides (numbers 13 and 14) represent a timeline of events occurring between October 28 (the date the UAB Football Foundation was formally announced via several media outlets) and November 12 (the date the foundation announced initial members appointed to its board). The information contained within was shared verbally with those in attendance on the 13th:

01132015 PRSA Alabama presentation

01132015 PRSA Alabama presentation2

The timing of the events included in the first slide and the significance of the soccer announcement as explained in the second slide (in addition to this report on it as it ran on November 10 — after securing a rendering of the proposed facility) are also significant considering a report from the UAB athletic financial analysis committee on December 19 made available earlier this month as a PDF.

More specifically, this passage from page two of the committee’s report is most significant:

At this point, no further work was performed based on the original contract or the two subsequent modifications. UAB reached back out to CarrSports during the week of October 6th to finalize the report. A draft was presented to UAB during the November 7th timeframe, with the final report being issued to UAB on 11/18/14.

It becomes significant when you begin to look at who knew what — specifically, the boosters — and when.

The reason behind the UAB athletics announcement

state appropriationsThis morning The Terminal sent an email to Jim Bakken, director of media relations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), requesting a breakdown of revenue sources at the school for the last 3-5 years. We were specifically asking for those numbers to be broken down between research and non-research sources.

It is our contention that the original decision to announce the discontinuation of UAB’s bowling, rifle, and football teams would be understood in a much broader context once folks take a closer look at that data. We’ve since found other ways to make our case.

The key to this approach to the story is taking a step back and looking at the entire university and not just athletics and its budget in a vacuum. Many of the arguments associated with saving the program are based on proving UAB can afford to pay for athletics. If you base it purely on cash in hand and access to the money in the budget, this is a true statement — the school can afford to field a full slate of teams. If you remember it is one department in one of the state’s most valuable resources — and one that recently hasn’t been able to provide for merit raises, etc. — you realize it becomes a flimsy proposition quickly.

A look at the 2013 financial report (particularly pages 5 and 6 for purposes of our initial statement of facts) gives us the first lovely graphic accompanying this article. It shows the appropriations received by UAB from the state of Alabama from 2009 – 2013. It essentially suggests that appropriations have remained flat for that time frame.  The findings reported by Yellowhammer News back in September shows that the total decline has been slow, but steady — a result of the recognition of UAB’s importance to the state economy. The decline for UAB (5%) incidentally is not nearly as precipitous as the ones for the main campus in Tuscaloosa (20.7%) and Huntsville (19.2%) during that same 1987-2012 time period they referenced. This will come into play at the end of this piece.

uab staff profileA look back at this piece filed by former Birmingham News reporter Hannah Wolfson in September 2011 shows that the budgets for all three schools in the university system rely heavily on increasing enrollment numbers. Officials have tried very hard to resist raising student fees and tuition, even though that’s the only non-research related funding potentially under the school’s control. It’s what allows them to pay for non-hospital and non-research faculty related positions. It also allows for the subsidy for athletics. Basically, non-research related funding is what’s used to pay for most of the non-hospital positions at UAB. That would be the reason for the use of the second graphic taken from the report in this piece. The inability to see significant increases in funding means you can’t afford cost of living increases, non-capital efforts, or (as evidenced on Tuesday) pay raises for coaches in athletics if the program is being propped up via a subsidy from the academic side. Research funds can’t necessarily be used because they’re basically earmarked for specific projects.

One thing to remember as you look at when this article was filed is what else was going on at the time — the UAB on-campus stadium effort. It provides the basis for another theory as to why it was never taken up by the Board of Trustees for consideration two months later.

Following this to its logical conclusion, it can be hypothesized that Ray Watts didn’t cut football because he was out to hurt UAB; he cut football to keep UAB from suffering a fate similar to the current situation at the University of Maryland – a hiring freeze for all non-research related positions. It would also explain not only why Carol Garrison resigned before but why Judy Bonner announced her resignation late last year at Alabama. It also explains why the university has been so excited with regard to its recent increases in research funding, specifically from the National Institutes of Health.

Incidentally, Maryland did just announce this brand new project — one that won’t be affected by their hiring freeze. This is after they made a move back in 2012 that may look familiar to those who’ve been following the UAB situation — except they chose to keep football.

There are other effects to this effort — ones we’re continuing to investigate at this time.

UAB announces new soccer facility, $1.5 million BBVA Compass gift towards construction

BBVA Compass field rendering from SEBBVA Compass and UAB officials released a statement on Friday announcing a $1.5 million gift to be used to construct a new 2,500 seat stadium for the school’s men’s and women’s soccer teams. The unveiling of these plans follow recent public written statements (including one released by UAB president Dr. Ray Watts and another by the university’s athletic director Brian Mackin) in response to a letter penned by the members of the newly formed UAB Football Foundation and first published on SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty. The exchange is leading many to wonder if the UAB football team will be taking the field in 2016 and beyond.

Digital renderings of the new facility, to be called BBVA Compass Field, were posted to the UAB men’s soccer team’s fan page on Facebook on Saturday morning, November 8. It would place two of athletic department’s top three performing programs (soccer and baseball) on prominent display for those arriving on campus from the west along University Boulevard. Its location is approximately where a proposed facility was suggested in the long-range plan for the university previously prepared by KPS Group. The field would replace the current team home, the West Campus Field. It is also not the global financial institution’s first foray into the naming-rights arena as BBVA Compass Stadium, a 22,000 seat facility in Houston, TX nicknamed “The Oven,” houses the MLS’s Houston Dynamo and NWSL’s Houston Dash; their Spanish-based parent company, BBVA Group, sponsors La Jiga — the top division in Spain’s soccer league system.

In related news, the men’s soccer team, currently ranked No. 22 in the nation, will play against Marshall at 3:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, November 12, in Norfolk, VA. in a quarterfinal match for the Conference USA championship. They will play the winner of the first match of the day — Kentucky vs. South Carolina (1 p.m. CT).

Red Mountain Park opens Kaul Adventure Tower on Saturday

KaulAdventureTowerviewThis photo is from inside the top of Red Mountain Park‘s newest attraction — the Kaul Adventure Tower — just before a ride down via the Mega Zip. (NOTE: It was the author’s first ever trip on a zip line). The visit on November 4 was in advance of the attraction’s formal opening to the public on Saturday, November 8. The ride down from the top of the 80 foot tower means potentially reaching speeds of 30 miles per hour while gliding down 1,300 feet of cable, then returning 300 feet before being brought in to rest on one of the platforms (there are two lines available for use by visitors at this location). The tower also provides eight lanes of simultaneous climbing up or two options (36′ and 72′) of rappelling down its exterior. Climbers can either use traditional holds, mountain laurel, or easily identifiable (and large) leaves to gain footing or enjoy the view.

The project was funded by the Hugh Kaul Foundation, the organization’s most recent contribution to the newest of the facilities included in the Three Parks Initiative several years ago. The foundation is also the namesake for the park’s Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest, a ropes and cable course located a short hike from this new attraction. According to the park’s website, the tower can accommodate as many as 24 people at once. It was designed and constructed by Beanstalk Builders, a company based in Morganton, North Carolina. The company was also responsible for the Beanstalk Forest and the Red Ore Zip Tour.

The opening of the tower for use (and reservations) comes on the heels of the recent dedication of Remy’s Dog Park and additional pending announcements about long-planned improvements. Park visitors will pay $30 for 1 hour of climbing and rappelling on the tower and $20 to experience the Mega Zip. They can also partake in both experiences for $50.