Tag Archives: Birmingham

A future for “The Sign” begins to take shape

03092016 2NorthTwentiethThis morning, the Birmingham Design Review Committee got its first look at a proposed replacement for what’s come to be known around the city as “The Pepsi Sign.” Representatives from 84 Outdoor and Cayenne Creative presented a working design to committee members at the end of the meeting.

City officials reached out to 84 Outdoor by letter (of the cease and desist variety) after learning about the plans to replace the existing vinyl signs covering the electric scrolling installation atop Two North Twentieth via a story published on March 2 by AL.com. They met with them on Tuesday and subsequently added them to this morning’s agenda to give the committee a chance to offer input on its design.

It has been just over two years since the advertisement was first installed. (We have a recap of previous reports about appearances by “The Sign” on the Design Review agenda available on Dear Birmingham.) A follow-up report by AL.com’s Kelly Poe said UAB will be paying $300,000 for a one-year lease of the two-sided sign.

James Stanley, an attorney with the City of Birmingham, informed committee members the sign is considered a non-conforming billboard for zoning purposes. Based on this designation, the new owner does not have to seek approval of any replacement of the advertising on the sign so long as the sign is not expanded in size and there was no need to replace its structure. 84 Outdoor can choose (as it did) to bring those proposed designs to the committee to seek input and opinion as they are considered, but they do not need their approval for installation.

The design as presented this morning has several downtown destinations represented in simulated black and white photos, including the Alabama Theatre; the City Federal building; the Empire Building; Harbert Plaza; Railroad Park; Sloss Furnaces; Vulcan; and the soon to be lit Magic City sign along the Rotary Trail on Southside. A green UAB logo would sit in the middle of it. The design would be closer to what had been suggested by the committee while working with Harbert Realty on what they originally asked to be considered temporary signage more than two years ago.

The committee asked the applicants to come back for the next regularly scheduled meeting on March 23 to give them an opportunity to review the proposed design.

Unfortunately, the BhamPepsiSign Twitter account doesn’t exist anymore, so the sign could not be reached for comment.

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 AL.com 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).

Uptown becomes Birmingham’s first open container district

Uptown cupsThis St. Patrick’s Day, the Birmingham City Council  approved the city’s first entertainment district. The BJCC will be presenting the Uptown Entertainment District to the Council for consideration during the March 17, 2015 meeting (Item 1). The district would be the first established since the passage of an amendment to Birmingham’s ordinance on “Intoxicating Liquors” in September 2013. The design for the “to-go” cups to be used by businesses were not subject to Design Review Committee (DRC) approval though they were presented during the end of the review process last fall.

The Alabama State Legislature passed a law in 2012 allowing for “open carry” of drinks from participating businesses within the boundaries of a designated district (though drinks cannot be carried from one business to another). Several districts already exist elsewhere in the state, including two in Huntsville and one in Decatur. Uptown is considered an ideal a test case by many for other potential districts to watch, including the recently renamed Parkside district surrounding Regions Field; the Lakeview district; and a portion of Second Avenue North. The amp below shows the proposed boundaries for the district:


The BJCC received DRC approval for the necessary signage identifying the district’s proposed boundaries in October 2014 after reviewing options since that July. There is no official word about how soon the pole signs, designed by a local graphic designer, would be installed; it is also unclear as to when the relaxed rules would take effect.

During discussion involving the ordinance before the vote (unanimously 7-0; Councilors Lundy and Tyson were not present), Councilor Abbott suggested that the bugs get worked out in Uptown first before tackling other proposed districts. Council President Pro-Tem Roberson pointed out the potential financial benefits related to this district and future proposals.

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.

Design Review signage approval means third Waffle House location slated for greater downtown Birmingham

New Waffle House 2015Birmingham’s Design Review Committee heard a signage case during Wednesday morning’s regularly scheduled meeting that sets the stage for a Waffle House location on the edge of the city’s central business district. It would be the third location in the greater downtown area — all opening in the last 3+ years.

There was no timetable given by the applicant for when the new location will open, though the proposal includes a refinishing of the facade. It will be the first one with direct access to Interstate I-65 since the location adjacent to the Medical Center Inn was demolished shortly after the purchase of the property by UAB in late 2011 to use as intramural fields.

The building in question, located at 1104 3rd Avenue North, has seen several restaurants in recent years. It also sits at the foot of one of the busiest off-ramps for Interstate 65 northbound into the downtown area. Its most prominent usage during that time period though would be that of campaign headquarters for former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford during his successful 2007 run for office (as this photo of Langford in front of the building by Bob Farley shows from that evening).

Photo: Rendering courtesy of applicant.

UPDATED: Alabama Media Group sees layoffs statewide, four in Birmingham

Logo-Alabama-Media-GroupAlabama Media Group, the company responsible for the production of The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and the Mobile Press-Register in addition to al.com, internally announced layoffs on Monday. Mobile and saw five (5) positions affected; Birmingham also had five positions affected, including four on the newsroom side.

The following was provided to The Terminal this morning by the company’s vice president for content, Michelle Holmes.

Dear team:

Today, we made a variety of changes in our staff.  In our quest to constantly focus on a sustainable future, we have had to make some very tough decisions about which positions and who best fits into that future.

Because such personnel matters are sensitive, and circumstances in each case unique, we will not address specific moves. Individuals’ situations will be kept confidential, as any of us would want with regard to our own employment.

We have been clear for the last several months that we are regularly assessing our staffing needs, our skills and our overall performance in building and serving audiences. Today’s moves are part of that process.

As you know, we have recently hired several people in different roles, and we have job postings active for others. We remain committed to building this company, ensuring we have the right people in the right roles and adding to the overall skills and abilities of our teams in all locations.

While we recognize the difficulty of decisions like these, it is critical that we do what is necessary to position ourselves to be able to provide significant local journalism both now and in the future.

I look forward to ongoing conversations with you as we move forward together in that mission.

The changes at the company follow a little more than three weeks after an optimistic bi-annual letter from Advance Local president Randy Siegel; one that hinted at potential layoffs across the company (as reported by Poynter on January 6). The letter stated the company anticipates it will see digital ad sales growth outpace declines in print ad sales this year.

It was not the only announcements related to layoffs in newsrooms in the southeastern United States from Monday. Romanesko.com posted on Tuesday morning about layoffs at the Chattanooga Times Free-Press – on the same day they learned of a merit bonus. The New Orleans Advocate also reported on layoffs set to take place in late March at the New Orleans Times-Picayune as they prepare to move from their long-time headquarters. This is part of a plan to outsource the printing of their newspaper to the Alabama Central Service’s facility in Mobile, resulting in 100 additional job losses announced last year.

UPDATE, 1/29/2015: The text of this story now reflects additional information received since the initial report was filed. It also includes information about additional job reductions at other Advance properties in the southeastern United States.

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.