Tag Archives: Birmingham

On-street parking rates go up in Birmingham’s city center

time-out-on-metersRecently there have been many more comments made via online networks like Facebook and Twitter about a seemingly sudden and significant rise in on-street parking rates in Birmingham’s city center. The rates were last raised in 2009, though city officials admitted the changes hadn’t widely gone into effect nearly a year later. Current reports show meter rates have risen to $0.25 for 8 minutes — an increase included in the city’s 2015 municipal budget.

Fees for city owned parking lots have risen at this time and they may be seeing some increased usage as a result of the unavailability of spaces under Interstate 20/59 adjacent to the BJCC complex. The following is a quick round-up of parking meter and city-owned parking deck fees from cities either visited as part of the then Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce’s BIG Trip (as has been done on this site previously) and those currently referenced as peer cities in the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Blueprint Birmingham document for the purposes of comparison.

City Meter Fee Parking Deck/Lot Fee
Birmingham $0.50/16 minutes $1/hour ($8 daily maximum)*
Baltimore, MD $0.50/30 minutes $5-7/hour (avg. $20 maximum)
Charlotte, NC $0.50/30 minutes $3-6/hour (avg. $20 maximum)
Nashville, TN $0.50/20 minutes $5-8/hour ($10/12 daily maximum)
Pittsburgh, PA $1.50/30 minutes $5/hour ($11-16 daily maximum)
Denver, CO  $0.50/30 minutes $1-4/hour ($12 daily maximum)
Austin, TX $0.50/30 minutes $4/hour ($13 daily maximum)

Louisville, KY $0.75/30 minutes $2/hour ($10 daily maximum)
Memphis, TN $0.50/30 minutes $3-5 flat rate
Raleigh, NC $0.50/30 minutes $2/hour ($12 daily maximum)
Oklahoma City, OK $0.50/30 minutes $2/hour ($10 daily maximum)
Atlanta, GA $1.00/30 minutes $4/hour ($10 daily maximum)
Huntsville, AL $0.25/30 minutes $0.50/hour ($4 daily maximum)
Montgomery, AL $0.50/30 minutes $1/hour ($6 daily maximum)
Mobile, AL $0.50/30 minutes $5 flat rate

Morris Avenue Parking Lot Sept 2014NOTE: All on-street metered rates listed above are for that city’s central business district area.

There were some interesting findings as the research was conducted. While there are several parking deck options in Nashville, there are only two municipally owned options in their city center; this would be why the rates included may seem lower than what’s typically encountered while there. It played out that way in several of the cities referenced.  Many of the peer cities had also created interactive sites allowing potential customers to know about availability in parking decks. Additionally, it was determined that it’s really difficult to find rates posted online for metered parking in Alabama cities. One question that still remains though based on the necessary shifting of parking options — why does the western end of the Morris Avenue lot still look like this most days?

Birmingham’s inaugural Innovation Week underway

IMG_20140922_103827This morning the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), TechBirmingham, the Birmingham Venture Club, and Alabama Launchpad were joined by representatives of the city of Birmingham at Innovation Depot as they held a ribbon cutting to mark the start of the city’s first ever Innovation Week. Special events like a screening of the web series StartupLand! and an open house at the Depot are interspersed among regularly scheduled gatherings (think Birmingham Startup Drinks and a Code for Birmingham hack session on Friday) this week. This morning’s ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on startup capital held at the BBA’s offices downtown.

It will culminate with a one-day . A full schedule is posted on the official website for the effort (with AL.com, the event’s media partner) creating a public Google calendar for you to subscribe to as well). Those attending the week’s events are asked to use the hashtag #innovationweekbirmingham when sharing items via social media networks, though we’ve seen a few trying to use #innovationweekbham as well (including us) to leave a few more characters free for commenting.

UPDATED: Trader Joe’s arrives in Birmingham in late 2015

UPDATE: 9/17/2014As suggested in the second paragraph below, this afternoon the Birmingham Business Journal has confirmed the space Trader Joe’s will occupy is the current Banana Republic location.

trader-joesMembers of the “Bring Trader Joe’s to Birmingham” fan page on Facebook, rejoice! Trader Joe’s has announced their intention to open at The Summit during the second half of 2015, according to reports from AL.com and ABC 33/40 this morning. Both cite a release from the Monrovia, California-based company, notoriously tight-lipped about proposed locations until absolutely necessary, saying the 12,600 square foot store will be at 209 Summit Boulevard – the development’s southern portion.

The address suggests there will be other announcements in the coming days about new construction or the relocation and/or closing of stores (though the AL.com version of the story has been updated with the exact address being removed) as there is no vacancy currently in that portion of the lifestyle center.

A search of the city’s permitting database in late February and early March suggested a new project was coming to the popular lifestyle center. The location is more central to the metro area than people realize (and still within Birmingham’s city limits — as are the Nordstrom Rack and Target locations in Shelby County). The announcement also does not contradict a statement made back in 2011 — and comments made by the store’s founder at that time. The store’s size and announced location follow a trend first examined in 2011 by the Los Angeles Times — one seen as a way to capture more revenue. It will be the first full-service grocer at The Summit since Bruno’s closed in May 2009 following its parent company’s bankruptcy filing.

A representative for the chain informed the Birmingham Business Journal as recently as March that the market was not on the radar. This was shortly after an anonymous tip sent to this website led to attempts to reach out to both Trader Joe’s and Bayer Properties this spring. No response was received.

Huntsville was optimistic about its chances of landing a Trader Joe’s (as evidenced by this Reddit thread), but today’s announcement came with a statement similar to that one about Birmingham in 2011. It may only be a matter of time then, Rocket City…

The mayor negotiating direct flight options isn’t that far-fetched — for several reasons

Straßenbahn BremenYesterday’s report about negotiations taking place between Birmingham, AL and the German state of Bremen by Joseph Bryant in AL.com had some scratching their heads. Instead, it probably should have had folks wondering why it had taken so long to get to this point.

An agreement signed in November 2011 between Alabama’s development office and Germany’s tenth largest city could be key in understanding how and why these talks are taking place — plus a reminder that it’s not uncommon for these types of negotiations to take place at all.

Alabama’s secretary of commerce, Greg Canfield, shared the following information with AL.com via a prepared statement back when the pact was announced:

“We have 68 German companies who have invested more than $5.8 billion in Alabama. Since 2000, these companies have been responsible for 10,305 announced jobs in our state.”

This document produced by the U.S. Consulate General’s office in Hamburg (it’s only eight pages) in 2011 spells out most of the reasons why the agreement still makes sense. The most recognizable of those companies has a significant presence in Central Alabama — it’s Mercedes-Benz. The company’s plant in Bremen is producing the same C-series W205 sedans currently under production in Vance, AL. It was the main focus of a follow-up visit made by the Bremen Economic Development agency in 2012.

The recently completed $201.6 million renovation and expansion of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport gives the facility an opportunity to provide a less-crowded alternative to Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, It does not serve as a hub (Delta’s main hub is located in Atlanta while Southwest effectively treats Nashville as its gateway to the southeastern United States). That said, as the Birmingham Business Journal recently suggested, incentives will play a key role in whatever ends up happening with regards to international or domestic direct flight service. It also doesn’t hurt that the current expansion project provides for additional gates to be added when and if the need is identified — and that a recently released master plan for Hartsfield still needs to be priced out and receive public input.

While it may seem weird to hear about the mayor being involved in negotiations to secure direct flights, it is not unprecedented. The example most relatable may be what happened in Columbia, MO. Shortly after the announcement that the Tigers would be joining the SEC, then first-term Mayor Bob McDavid was able to secure direct flight service via Delta to and from Atlanta, GA. This service was discontinued shortly after it was announced — but only because Delta thought American Airlines received a better incentive package to provide direct flight service to Chicago, IL (via O’Hare) and Dallas, TX. A more recent example (resulting in direct flight service to the same two cities) is what Bismarck, ND was able to secure from American via incentives.

Whether or not Birmingham is successful, the precedent is there. Time will tell what options will be available to area residents.

Photo: Straßenbahn Bremenkaffeeeinstein/Flickr.


The changing of the guard continues in Birmingham

pijeauxretirementparty625This week we’ve learned about the retirements of several prominent figures in our city and our city’s government. One we’ve known was coming for some time though was that of outgoing president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Lawrence Pijeauxit was first announced last October. A party was held in his honor on Wednesday evening at the Institute’s home on 6th Avenue and 16th Street, South, drawing people from throughout the city to say “thank you” to the organization’s leader since 1995. As AL.com previously reported at the end of this piece from earlier this month, Priscilla Hancock Cooper has been named as its interim president while a nationwide search is conducted.

Tuesday morning saw the announcement of the retirements of Renee Blalock (executive director of the Birmingham Public Library); Phil Turkett (the city’s zoning administrator); and Bobby Dorr (the city’s director of information management services) during the weekly city council meeting. These announcements mean as much as nearly 40 years of institutional knowledge will be taking its final bow in municipal offices, and providing an opening for new voices and directions for the city.

“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.

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.