Birmingham’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.
This 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.
If you’ve driven by The Redmont Hotel in recent weeks, you’ve noticed plywood covering some of the windows and doors on the ground floor. The last two days have brought increased activity to the historic hotel as the first significant signs of its estimated $13.4 million renovation are now visible. Crews and machinery were in front of the building this morning. It will be the first extensive project undertaken at the hotel since 2007.
The property was one of the first ten to be awarded state tax credits as part of the Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program earlier this year. It appears to be the first of those located in Birmingham to move forward with related work.
Last August saw Hay Creek Hotels announced as the hotel management company hired to oversee the renovation. They’ve already created a landing page for the property in its reservation network; Stewart Perry is serving as the project’s general contractor. The hotel has held a renovation sale during the last month, with management holding a party in the lobby back in June. Attendees were told at that time the property’s rooftop bar, Above, would open before the renovation was completed.
Employees 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.
AL.com’s Carol Robinson shared several tweets throughout the morning, posting a full recap on their website shortly before 10 a.m.
The word’s been spreading like wildfire all afternoon – Birmingham, AL was included (as number 10) on Livability.com’s list of the top 10 best downtown areas for 2014. Fort Worth, Texas topped the list, that also included cities like Providence, RI, and the other #bham, Bellingham, WA.
A statement shared via email by Birmingham Business Alliance president Brian Hilson expressed excitement about the significance of the latest recognition by outside media outlets:
“This is fantastic news, not only for the City of Birmingham, but for the entire Birmingham region,” said Hilson. “Downtowns, especially active ones like ours in Birmingham, help project a positive community image. Downtowns serve as a signature place for the community they are part of. They contain history, and they represent current and future economic vitality. In most metropolitan areas the downtown is the economic hub of the region, and that’s definitely true in Birmingham because of the concentration of employment, as well as the livability features downtown Birmingham offers. It is exciting to see downtown Birmingham receive this much-deserved recognition. We’ll use this positive news to promote further investment in Birmingham.”
The announcement adds to an ever-growing collection of top 10-type lists on which Alabama’s Magic City has been a part – including previous lists published by Livability.com. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the website, launched in late 2009 and published by Franklin, TN-based Journal Communications, strives to be a resource about “America’s best places” and “what makes cities truly livable” (according to their fan page on Facebook) while chronicling more than 500 cities across the country.
The city has been previously recognized as having one of the top 10 libraries for children (#9, 2012); one of the top 10 spring break destinations for families (#6, 2013); and a top 10 place to retire (#8, 2013).
The 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.
Melissa Kendrick and her store, Sojourns, need Birmingham’s help. Long before cups of coffee were being poured at Urban Standard or folks were sitting down to a cold one at all of the trendy bars gracing downtown Birmingham, she took a chance in 2005 and opened what is arguably one of the first businesses to be truly part of the city center’s revival.
According to the GoFundMe campaign set up by Max Blalock on Tuesday afternoon, a sewer line at her house collapse that is not covered by her homeowners insurance policy is placing Kendrick in a financial bind. While a status update on Facebook let us know she’s secured a part-time job, perhaps sharing the link to the page and seeing just how close she might be able to get to the goal would help too.
Incidentally, she’s also going to need some volunteers for an upcoming fashion show benefiting the Rape Response program at the Crisis Center…