The Faces Behind Commercial Real Estate Growth and the Revitalization of Downtown Birmingham

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Photo Courtesy of Birmingham Commercial Realtors Council

Birmingham’s Renaissance

Over the last few years, Birmingham has experienced a renaissance and redevelopment of downtown in large part due to commercial real estate growth. Commercial real estate, according the Birmingham Association of REALTORS®, contributes $465 billion a year to the U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Products Index).

The economic impact of this commercial real estate growth, according to the Birmingham Business Alliance, was nearly $587 million in capital investments in Birmingham in 2016 resulting in 2,014 new jobs in the area.   The commercial real estate industry stands ready to help businesses meet the needs they have- from retail space and office buildings to vacant land and warehouses.

The Birmingham Association of REALTORS® recently shined the spotlight on six members of the Birmingham Commercial Realtors Council who are doing their part to make Birmingham shine.  These powerhouse members garner national and international attention for the Magic City.

“Each one of these members we are spotlighting are leaders who have honored designations and networks across the country,” noted the association in a recent report.“They all are members of the BCRC, an organization whose mission is to be the singular voice for commercial real estate and to provide top-tier education, exposure and events to its members.”

The Powerhouse Behind Birmingham’s Transformation.

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Len Shannon, Birmingham Association’s Realtor of the Year.

The Birmingham association’s 2017 REALTOR® of the Year is Len Shannon, a partner with Shannon Waltchack. He was chosen for his excellence in business, and he exemplifies the REALTOR® Spirit and high rate of service to the association and community.

Shannon has been the Birmingham Commercial Realtors Council’s treasurer, vice president and president, is a lifetime member of the Commercial Million Dollar Sales Club and continues to be influential in the council’s commercial real estate education program.

“People don’t just want to make a living,” Shannon said. “They are looking to make a life and for places that match and reinforce their lives. The urban landscape provides a place for people to live, work and play in places that resonate. Over the next years, a majority of growth will happen in urban areas.”

Described by the Birmingham association as a “champion of urban revival” was Tim Blair, partner at Shannon Waltchack. He served as a guest editor of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Realtor Magazine.

“The biggest way I’ve had positive impact on Birmingham has simply been my work as a partner with Shannon Waltchack,” Blair said. “We, as a company, have helped shaped downtown and have benefited from downtown Birmingham’s urban core revival. We were the first to renovate in the Parkside District near Railroad Park and have purchased and brokered multiple deals all over the city over the last several years.”

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Number three on the list is Jerry Grant, Office Group Vice President, Graham & Company, LLC.  He was described as a “true measure of success” because of his 12 years of experience in commercial real estate. His client relation activities account for about 1.8 million square feet of Class A office space in Birmingham.

Grant says, “The true measure of success is doing the next right thing.”

Celebrated by the Birmingham association as a “voice of commercial real estate” was Hal Tillman, CEO & President of Tillman Realty.  Tillman is a political voice of the BCRC and has lobbied to help maintain a five-year extension of Alabama’s historic renovation tax credit, which has been instrumental in the redevelopment of downtown Birmingham.

“The historic tax credits program resulted in such revitalization projects as The Pizitz, Jefferson Towers and The Redmont Hotel,” Tillman said. “The renewal of the historic tax credit is going to continue to have a huge impact on downtown Birmingham.”

Chip Watts, President and Executive, Watts Realty Co., was described as the “heart of the Birmingham Renaissance.” Watts Realty is located in the heart of downtown and is currently renovating a future office location in the Montcreek Distribution Warehouse on 3rdAve. South. The Watts family was instrumental in the redevelopment of the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus and Children’s Hospital of Alabama in the early 2000s.

“Our family has been in the real estate business for four generations,” Watts said. “My great grandfather and grandfather worked with UAB in 1945 to parcel together the original campus. My father helped parcel together the properties that now form the North Pavilion and the Women & Children’s Center of the hospital.”

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Bryan Holt, Principal at Southpace Properties, was given the “retail and restaurant whisperer” moniker by the Birmingham association. He’s the one who first brought Starbucks to Alabama and north Florida.

His past clients include well-known retailers such as Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle and Zoe’s Kitchen.  Holt also is sought after to speak about the industry around the country.   He will become the president of the national Retail Brokers Network in 2021.

“The Retail Brokers Network has been invaluable in the emergence of Southpace Properties as a leader in retail real estate in Alabama,” said Holt.

What a wonderful group of executives who have transformed Birmingham and added magic to our Magic City!

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