UPDATE, 8:30 p.m., 9/11/2015: According to a press release received earlier this evening, the Birmingham City Council moved to rescind the moratorium on spending on capital projects during their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 15. This was after a 3 1/2 hour committee of the whole meeting, described in the release as being “open and often candid.”
The original post follows below:
Late Thursday afternoon the Birmingham City Council officially announced a special called meeting of its Committee of the Whole for Friday at 2 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting takes place just three days after the city’s legislative body voted to put in place a 30-day moratorium on funding for all capital projects underway in the city (as reported by AL.com), with a few notable exceptions — including renovations at Legion Field and the new intermodal transit facility currently under construction. A review of the committee meeting’s preliminary agenda for the meeting shows the only item under New Business as a “capital projects update.”
A press release sent out this afternoon in advance of the presentation to the council by the mayor’s office included the following quote from council president Johnathan Austin:
“As City Councilors we must be continually updated on all projects that utilize public funds to ensure that we are making the best decisions for our constituents. While we are excited about new growth opportunities that certain capital projects may present it is prudent that we are cautious about approving funding for items that we have minimal knowledge about.”
A report filed by WBRC’s Vanessa Araiza on Wednesday pointed to cost overruns related to Regions Field as a major reason for the delay. The council voted on Tuesday to approve paying the remaining expenses to Robins & Morton and A.G. Gaston Construction over a seven-year period. Members of the City Council also alluded to receiving some monthly reports covering progress while not receiving others, despite claims from the mayor’s office to the contrary. The reports are not accessible currently via the city’s official website, though the monthly report for the city’s street and storm sewer improvements program for the period ending December 31, 2014 is available online in part due to a report filed for ABC 33/40 in late January.
The current fiscal year’s capital budget is available on the city’s website via the budget office.
If you were upset you missed the public meeting held last July about the proposed changes to the portion of I-20/59 running through downtown Birmingham, you’re in luck. ALDOT will be holding another public involvement meeting next Thursday, March 28, in Boutwell Auditorium‘s exhibition hall. The open house will take place from 4 – 7 p.m., with a public comment period occurring from 5 – 6 p.m.
Based on the flyer being distributed through neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the well-traveled stretch of asphalt, the purpose of the meeting is to go over plans for replacing the elevated section of I-20/59 between the 31st St. N. and I-65 interchanges. It also states they will also be talking about modifications to both of those interchanges in addition to an “11th Avenue Corridor Reconstruction from I-65 to I-59/20.”
Those who’ve driven over to take a look at the new Westin hotel and Uptown entertainment district in recent days have probably noticed an increased presence by crews conducting soil testings (as reported on al.com on March 17). There may also be discussion about the effects of an expanded scope of project and whether any property will need to be acquired in order to carry it out.
There are some who drive along 14th Street daily to check on the progress of the new home for the Birmingham Barons, Regions Field. Many of them watch to see just how they’ll finish it in time for Opening Day in April.
Well, for the time being, those cars will need to be driving along 1st and 3rd Avenues South instead in order to check on progress as detour signs greet cars as they approach those intersections.
This is the way it is expected to be for approximately the next month as construction continues on the sporting venue located across the street from Railroad Park. One thing to note – Good People Brewing Company‘s taproom will maintain its current operating hours. It just means that you’ve got to park alongside Railroad Park or on 2nd Ave. S. between 14th and 15th Streets and walk to it. It also means the 2nd Annual Birmingham Brewnanza Brewery Collectible Show being hosted by the local chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America is still on too, and that’s a good thing.
There’s some other stuff happening nearby as recapped on the Birmingham Business Journal‘s website earlier today as a result of another pending deal to build housing along the park.
It’s been a little more than three years since Safari Cup Coffee (somewhat) unexpectedly closed up shop at the corner of 21st St. (Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd) and 3rd Ave. N. What some folks may not be aware of is that they simply moved the operation a few hours north to Chicago.
They opened in October of 2009 along the Southport corridor of the Windy City’s Lakeview neighborhood. A 2011 interview with the city’s RedEye has Dave McLaughlin saying the move was because he and wife “desired a more open-minded city and one that would embrace their African-only coffee.”
An email sent out over the weekend from “Andrew” via the site Change.org directs people to sign an online petition asking Starbucks to not go through with plans to open a new location next door to the independent coffee shop. The email, however, asked for folks to “Save Birmingham’s Safari Cup coffeeshop.”
The news first broke in Chicago on November 16 via Facebook, with DNAInfo and the Patch site for Lakeview both writing about McLaughlin’s concerns and the fact that Starbucks hasn’t exactly done anything wrong.
A local blog, 900poundgorilla, maintained by W.C. Truck, has also been vocal about the impending Starbucks expansion. He’s gone so far as to write an open letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on his site inviting him on his radio show Sunday (yesterday) on WCPT-AM 820. We don’t know if Schultz accepted the invitation.
So long as this site has operated, there’s been a serious interest in any story involving the launch of a pro team. This is especially true when it comes to football.
Earlier this week (Thursday to be exact), the folks from the new USFL held their first ever Google+ Hangout (yes, they have a Google+ account) as they attempted to explain some recent decisions and developments, including the one that pushes the launch of the league back to spring of 2014.
Of particular interest during this online event was a lengthy explanation of how they are going about determining where how those eight inaugural cities that will be determined. The league’s chief operating officer, Fred Biletnikoff Jr., pointed out that the league wasn’t necessarily looking to place teams in cities, but for “groups that come to us” in markets that are interested. Those ownership groups are required to fill out at 15-page application as part of the process; any potential owner that can claim five percent must also complete an application.
USFL president Jaime Cuadra reiterated their desire to have eight teams on the field when it launches, though there could be more based on interest shown and the additional time they now have. Cuadra did provide a list of cities where there was active interest and potential ownership groups. It included Salt Lake City; Tulsa/Oklahoma City; Akron, OH; Raleigh/Durham; Hartford, CT. He also spoke of interest being shown in Texas, southern Florida, and California and stressed that this list may change as they get closer to launch.
Birmingham was one of the cities involved in the original USFL during the mid-1980s.
The competition was stiff Saturday morning, including this year’s Sidewalk Film Festival & a couple of large meetings across town. In spite of those other options, a crowd of at least 250 people gathered at the Birmingham Museum of Art for the final scheduled public forum for Birmingham’s comprehensive plan process.
Birmingham mayor William Bell even stopped by and signed in. He also opened the three-hour session with remarks. Fox 6’s Steve Crocker served as the event’s moderator.
Those in attendance learned about some of the recommendations being considered for the final document, which will soon be made available both online via the project’s official website and at your local Birmingham Public Library branch for a period of public comment. The plan will then need to be adopted by both the city’s planning commission and City Council.
There’s a more detailed description written by forum attendee (& Birmingham News business reporter) Roy Williams and posted yesterday. There’s also this piece of commentary over on Dear Birmingham from earlier today wondering about what else needs to happen to make this a reality.
Construction of the new Walgreens location on Clairmont Avenue seems to be moving along smoothly – today’s sudden downpour notwithstanding.
The 13,000 square foot building looks like it’ll be ready to open late this year, its location the result of efforts to spare the historic fire station it now sits across the parking lot from that houses Bogue’s. As mentioned on this site last year, the agreement that served as the basis for the resulting project isn’t exactly being seen as binding anymore.
The drugstore chain’s practice in recent history of taking over former Borders locations and converting them into spaces similar to their flagship store in downtown Chicago might have one wondering if we’ll see any of those innovations in this new location, including the new “Well Experience Format” they’re beginning to roll out across the country. They’ve also been looked to as a national chain attempting to tackle food desert issues, but its close proximity to a Piggly Wiggly would make that less important here.
The parent company has been busy too – naming a former McDonald’s CEO its new non-executive chairman and investing in European chain Alliance Boots, setting the stage for a full merger in as little as three years.
Incidentally, the Facebook group that was originally created to help lead to how this new Walgreens location was developed re-branded itself just this morning to focus on a new effort, to Save Birmingham’s Schools from their Board.